This paper presents a study of patterns of cranial variation within and between extant hominoids. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between sexual dimorphisms and size differences between sexes. It emerges that shape contrasts between sexes are closely linked to size differences whilst variance dimorphism appears to be relatively independent of size effects. This study demonstrates that there are differences between the hominoids in their magnitudes and patterns of sexual shape contrasts. These types of differences are also found to exist between subgroups of modern humans. It is suggested that the differences which occur between hominoid groups in their patterns of sexual dimorphism are probably the result of a mixture of time and rate hypermorphoses (in males relative to females) acting upon different ontogenetic trajectories. The findings of this study suggest the need for caution in extrapolating from the sexual dimorphisms found in living hominoids to hypothesized dimorphisms in fossils.