Hypothesis-testing methods for multivariate data are needed to make rigorous probability statements about the effects of factors and their interactions in experiments. Analysis of variance is particularly powerful for the analysis of univariate data. The traditional multivariate analogues, however, are too stringent in their assumptions for most ecological multivariate data sets. Non-parametric methods, based on permutation tests, are preferable. This paper describes a new non-parametric method for multivariate analysis of variance, after McArdle and Anderson (in press). It is given here, with several applications in ecology, to provide an alternative and perhaps more intuitive formulation for ANOVA (based on sums of squared distances) to complement the description provided by McArdle and Anderson (in press) for the analysis of any linear model. It is an improvement on previous non-parametric methods because it allows a direct additive partitioning of variation for complex models. It does this while maintaining the flexibility and lack of formal assumptions of other non-parametric methods. The test-statistic is a multivariate analogue to Fisher’s F-ratio and is calculated directly from any symmetric distance or dissimilarity matrix. P-values are then obtained using permutations. Some examples of the method are given for tests involving several factors, including factorial and hierarchical (nested) designs and tests of interactions.