The Ships Of Opportunity Program in the Mediterranean Sea was established at the end of 1999, in the framework of the Mediterranean Forecasting System - Pilot Project (MFS-PP). Many improvements have been made in data collection, transmission and management. Calibration of selected XBTs and a comparison of XBTs vs. CTDs during some research cruises have assured the quality of the data. Transmission now allows receiving data in full resolution by using GSM or satellite telecommunication services; management is offering access to high quality data and view services. The effects of technological and methodological improvements in the observing system are assessed in terms of capability to represent the most important circulation features. The improved methodologies have been tested during the Mediterranean Forecasting System - Toward Environmental Prediction (MFS-TEP) - Targeted Operational Period (MFS-TOP), lasting from September 2004 to February 2005. In spite of the short period of measurements, several important aspects of the Mediterranean Sea circulation have been verified, such as eddies and gyres in the various sub-basins, and dense water formation processes in some of them ( vertical homogeneous profiles of about 13 degrees C down to similar to 800m in the Provencal, and of about 14.9 degrees C down to similar to 300m in the Levantine have allowed defining an index of dense water formation).