This article is aimed primarily at eye care practitioners who are undertaking advanced clinical research, and who wish to apply analysis of variance (ANOVA) to their data. ANOVA is a data analysis method of great utility and flexibility. This article describes why and how ANOVA was developed, the basic logic which underlies the method and the assumptions that the method makes for it to be validly applied to data from clinical experiments in optometry. The application of the method to the analysis of a simple data set is then described. In addition, the methods available for making planned comparisons between treatment means and for making post hoc tests are evaluated. The problem of determining the number of replicates or patients required in a given experimental situation is also discussed.