Small and medium enterprise (SME) research has typically found that female-owned SMEs underperform male-owned SMEs. Further, this underperformance usually persists after controlling for variables such as industry, age of business, and size of business. However, previous studies have normally limited their assessment of performance to sales or profit (or growth in sales or profit) without controlling for differences in risk. Our results indicate that although profits are significantly higher for male-controlled SMEs, so is the variation in profits (risk). After adjusting for risk, we find no significant difference between the performances of male- and female-controlled SMEs. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.