summary Changing the occlusal vertical dimension is a common procedure in restorative dentistry, during treatment of patients with cranio-mandibular disorders, and during orthodontic and orthognathic treatment. The treatment may alter the length of the main jaw elevator muscles and the position of the mandibular head in the fossa temporalis. These changes may influence the bite forces that are generated during chewing and thus may affect the masticatory function. We measured the objective masticatory function, defined as masticatory performance, by determining an individual's capacity to pulverize a test food. The immediate influence of the increase in the occlusal vertical dimension on the masticatory performance was determined using three anatomical maxillary splints in a group of seven dentate subjects. The splints gave an increase in the occlusal vertical dimension of 2, 4 and 6 mm, respectively. Before we started the experiments the subjects practiced chewing with the splints during about 5 min. No significant differences were observed in masticatory performance among the conditions without and with the three splints. Thus, an increase in the occlusal vertical dimension up to 6 mm did not have a significant effect on the masticatory performance. Maxillary splints may be used to study the effect of occlusal factors on the chewing process by manipulating tooth shape and occlusal area of the splint.