"The aim of the paper is to propose a "contextual" approach (Altman, Rogoff, 1987; Stokols, 1987) to the study of crowding, taking into consideration the socio-physical unity of the "place" (Russel, Ward, 1982; Stokols, Shumaker, 1981; Canter, 1983; Holahan, 1985; Altman, 1986) where crowding occurs. The study presented here is part of U.N.E.S.C.O.-M.A.B. Project n. 11. It is focussed on a specific urban place (the neighborhood), inside a large metropolitan area. Its aim is to investigate the relationship between negative evaluation of social density (crowding) and inhabitants' residential satisfaction. The perception of crowding within the neighborhood expressed by the inhabitants has been studied in order to establish: (a) the salience of this perception within the more general problem of residential satisfaction and the way in which this evaluation of crowding tends to be linked to the other kinds of evaluation of the same residential environment; (b) the relationship between the perception of crowding and the physical and social characteristics of residential experience of the inhabitants: the physical features are defined in spatial terms (with reference to the location of residence within the neighborhood) as well as in temporal terms (with reference to the length of residence and the time spent daily in the neighborhood); the social characteristics are defined in terms of several socio-cultural features of the inhabitants (i.e. gender, age, socio-economic level). The study was carried out in a neighborhood ("quartiere') in north-west Rome. During a first exploratory stage we interviewed 30 inhabitants: in a second stage we administered a structured questionnaire to 461 inhabitants of different age, gender, socio-cultural level, location and lenght of residence in the neighbourhood. The results point to the strong saliency of the crowding evaluation within: (i) the overall residential satisfaction and (ii) the inhabitant's concern with the spatio-social "openness-closedness" (Altman, Gauvain, 1981) of the neighborhood environment. Some peculiar results have been found in regard to the relationship between (i) the spatio-physical features of the residential environment, (ii) the sociodemographic characteristics of the inhabitants and (iii) the satisfaction about the spatio-social opennessclosedness and the social density (crowding) of the neighborhood. The findings are discussed, pointing out the interest in a contextual approach to crowding."