The conditional evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) has proven to be a versatile tool for understanding the production of alternative phenotypes in response to environmental cues. Hence, we would expect the theoretical basis of the conditional strategy to be robust. However, Shuster and Wade have recently criticized the conditional ESS based on Gross's 1996 proposal that most alternative reproductive tactics are conditional and have evolved by I status-dependent selection.' We critically assess Gross's status-dependent selection model and Shuster and Wade's critique. We find shortcomings and misconceptions in both. We return to the findings of the strategic models behind the conditional ESS and demonstrate how environmental threshold models use a reaction norm approach and quantitative genetic theory to understand the evolution of conditional strategies.