This study examined the relation between field-test results and match performance in elite Italian soccer referees. Subjects (n = 22) were all experienced elite-level referees enrolled in the Commissione Arbitri Nazionali (CAN) and thus officiating in the Serie A and B Italian championships. Referees were, on separate occasions, tested for fitness (50-m, 200-m, and 12-minute run tests) and observed a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 3 times (n = 39) during Serie A matches. Match analyses were performed considering 11 match activity categories. Analyses of correlations were performed considering 50-m, 200-m, and 12-minute run test performances as independent variables and total distance, maximal speed distance (runs performed at speeds faster than 24 km.h-1), and high-intensity activity distance (runs performed at speeds faster than 18 km.h-1, high intensity activity [HIA]) as dependent variables. Statistical significance was set at p <or= 0.05. In the 50-m, 200-m, and 12-minute run tests the referees scored, 7.07 +/- 0.26 seconds, 29.57 +/- 1.44 seconds, and 2866 +/- 164 m, respectively. The 12-minute run test showed a moderate correlation with total match distance (r = 0.71, p < 0.05), and a low correlation with HIA and maximal speed distance (r = 0.51, p < 0.05 and r = 0.32, p < 0.05, respectively). The 200-m and 50-m sprint times were not correlated with the distance covered at maximal speed or HIA, but correlated negatively with match distance (r = -0.48, p < 0.05 and r = -0.38, p < 0.05, respectively). The results of the present study demonstrate that the 12-minute run test is a moderate predictor of match performance in elite referees and that aerobic fitness should have priority in the physical conditioning programs of the elite soccer referee.