Ethnobiology includes the study of how populations perceive and classify organisms. This study focuses on the utilization and classification of fishes by fishermen from the Tocantins river. The study area is located between the cities of Imperatriz and Estreito (Maranhão and Tocantins States). Interviews with fishermen and collection of fish species were performed from October 1987 to June 1988. The criteria used by fishermen to classify fish species are mainly morphological, such as related to body shape and coloration. Fish habitat is also an information used in folk classification. Terrestrial plants and animals are a reference for some fish names. Fishermen showed a deeper knowledge and detailed classification of species of fish used for food, sale, or medicine. Folk classification represents the knowledge a population has on its environment, and it is more detailed on species which are part of its realized niche as indicated by this study.