The bootstrap method, due to Bradley Efron, is a powerful, general method for estimating a variance or standard deviation by repeatedly resampling the given set of experimental data. The method is applied here to the problem of estimating the standard deviation of the estimated midpoint and spread of a sensory-performance function based on data sets comprising 15-25 trials. The performance of the bootstrap estimator was assessed in Monte Carlo studies against another general estimator obtained by the classical "combination-of-observations" or incremental method. The bootstrap method proved clearly superior to the incremental method, yielding much smaller percentage biases and much greater efficiencies. Its use in the analysis of sensory-performance data may be particularly appropriate when traditional asymptotic procedures, including the probittransformation approach, become unreliable. © 1987 Springer-Verlag.