'Chandler', 'Oso Grande' and 'Sweet Charlie' strawberry cultivars were harvested at four stages of color development ranging from color break to full red and stored in the dark for 8 days at 1°C. Changes in the physical and chemical characteristics of fruit during storage were compared with those occurring during development in the field. Strawberry fruit harvested at the three-quarters colored and full red stages continued their development and ripening during storage. However, fruit harvested at the color break and half-colored stages did not develop like those ripened in the field. Strawberries harvested at the three-quarters colored stage developed the same pH, acidity, soluble solids, ascorbic acid and total phenolics content during storage as the at-harvest levels present in strawberries harvested at the full red stage. In addition, three-quarters colored strawberries were as firm and red after storage as the full red stage fruit were at the time of harvest. Thus, strawberries harvested at the three-quarters colored stage can be stored for a longer period than strawberries harvested full red while retaining better color and firmness.