Lipolysis and lipid oxidation in Mediterranean and North Europe type sausages were studied in relation to raw material, processing conditions and additives. In particular the effect of ascorbic acid, nitrites and spices was evaluated. Lipolysis was measured by the determination of total and free fatty acids of fresh minces and matured products and lipid oxidation was evaluated by thiobarbituric acid reactive substances and cholesterol oxidation products. The increase of free fatty acids during maturation appears to be independent from processing conditions and the differences in polyunsaturated fatty acids increment found among the formulations appear to be due to inherent variations of raw materials. The presence of ascorbic acid and/or nitrite seems important for cholesterol protection and, as a consequence, for the safety of fermented meat products while spices at doses up to 0.1% do not seem to have a remarkable effect. The effect on fatty acid oxidation of the same additives and of the different processing technologies is not significantly different and the variations linked to raw material may play the greatest role.