In this paper we look at the evolution of low wage employment in Italy using different data sets, at the individual level, for the 1975-1993 period. The structure of the paper is as follows: first, the nature and the extent of low pay in Italy is analysed in terms of the existing pay setting institutions. Second, both a descriptive analysis of the main features of low pay employment, as well as the working experience of individuals over the life-cycle are offered. The main determinants of low wages are estimated and the – ceteris paribus – probability of being low paid is given for different stylised “individuals”. Third, we explore whether low pay is a transitory or a permanent feature of the individual wage profile. Mobility patterns over deciles of the wage distribution are analysed and a number of summary indicators are offered.