Capillary gas chromatography (GC) is a well-established separation technique. Rick Parmely reviews some of the capillary column basics by investigating a standard test mixture and observing some of the chromatographic effects that can affect peak response, peak shape and column bleed. He provides guidelines for obtaining the best performance from a capillary column. He discusses peak tailing, column overload, ghost peaks and column bleed and speculates on "when to give up." He concludes with a set of fundamental steps to be used in achieving better GC analyses.