Theoretical analyses of air traffic complexity were carried out using the Method for the Analysis of Relational Complexity. Twenty-two air traffic controllers examined static air traffic displays and were required to detect and resolve conflicts. Objective measures of performance included conflict detection time and accuracy. Subjective perceptions of mental workload were assessed by a complexity-sorting task and subjective ratings of the difficulty of different aspects of the task. A metric quantifying the complexity of pair-wise relations among aircraft was able to account for a substantial portion of the variance in the perceived complexity and difficulty of conflict detection problems, as well as reaction time. Other variables that influenced performance included the mean minimum separation between aircraft pairs and the amount of time that aircraft spent in conflict.