Small firms have, on average, lower return on assets and higher leverage than do large firms. Small firms tend to do well in good economic conditions but to perform poorly in the worst economic conditions. We investigate the hypothesis that the small firm effect is manifest in the expansion phase of the economic cycle but not in the contraction phase. The empirical results of our study confirm the hypothesis for 1976–95. We use the alpha, residual, and regression methods in testing the hypothesis.