Propensity score (PS) techniques are useful if the number of potential confounding pretreatment variables is large and the number of analysed outcome events is rather small so that conventional multivariable adjustment is hardly feasible. Only pretreatment characteristics should be chosen to derive PS, and only when they are probably associated with outcome. A careful visual inspection of PS will help to identify areas of no or minimal overlap, which suggests residual confounding, and trimming of the data according to the distribution of PS will help to minimise residual confounding. Standardised differences in pretreatment characteristics provide a useful check of the success of the PS technique employed. As with conventional multivariable adjustment, PS techniques cannot account for confounding variables that are not or are only imperfectly measured, and no PS technique is a substitute for an adequately designed randomised trial.