Multi-criteria analysis (MCA) is a popular tool in Dutch environmental impact assessment (EIA). This paper provides an overview of the type and complexity of decision problems supported, and the MCA approach selected to analyse these problems. Furthermore, the role of MCA in the decision process is analysed, and a special case where the MCA results were challenged in court is presented. The paper concludes with some lessons learned from the use of MCA in the Netherlands. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.