Recovery of threatened species is often necessarily a long-term process. The present paper details the progress towards the recovery of trout cod, Maccullochella macquariensis, an iconic, long-lived fish species first listed as threatened in the 1980s. The objectives, actions and progress over three successive national recovery plans (spanning 18 years) are assessed, documenting changes to population distribution and abundance and updating ecological knowledge. Increased knowledge (especially breeding biology and hatchery techniques, movements, habitats and genetics) has greatly influenced recovery actions and the use of a population model was developed to assist with management options and stocking regimes. Key recovery actions include stocking of hatchery-produced fish to establish new populations, regulations on angling (including closures), education (particularly identification from the closely related Murray cod, M. peelii) and habitat rehabilitation (especially re-instatement of structural woody habitats). In particular, the establishment of new populations using hatchery stocking has been a successful action. The importance of a coordinated long-term approach is emphasised and, although there is uncertainty in ongoing resourcing of the recovery program, much has been achieved and there is cautious optimism for the future of this species.