Specific leaf area (SLA) is defined as the ratio between projected leaf area and needle dry mass. It often serves as parameter in ecosystem modelling as well as indicator for potential growth rate. We explore the SLA of European larch (Larix decidua) and the most important factors which have an influence on it. Data were collected from eight stands in Styria, Austria. The stands varied in age, elevation and species mixture. Four stands were pure larch stands with only minor proportions of Norway spruce (Picea abies), whereas the other four were mixed stands of larch and spruce. In each stand 15 representative sample trees were felled. The crown of each sample tree was divided into three sections of equal length and in each section a random sample of needles was taken for determining projected leaf area and dry mass of 50 needles. The mean SLA of larch was established to be 117 cm2 g1 with a standard deviation of 27.9 cm2 g1. SLA varies within the crown, but neither between different mixtures nor years of observation nor social position of the trees. A mixed-effects model, with the plots as random effect, revealed that SLA of larch decreased with increasing branch height (p = 0.0012) and increased with increasing canopy depth (p = 0.029). We conclude that both the hydraulic limitations due to low water potentials in greater branch heights and light availability affect specific leaf area.