Abstract Lateral preference patterns of Chinese and Anglo-Americans were assessed to examine the influence of gender and family history for each group. Ninety-two Chinese and a like number of Anglo-Americans were presented with a Chinese and English version of the Lateral Preference Schedule, respectively. Results indicated that Anglos were significantly less right oriented on measures of general handedness and strength. An interaction for the visually guided motor factor indicated that Anglo males were significantly more bilateral than females of their Chinese counterparts. When family history was investigated, it was found that Chinese parents were significantly more right lateralized than their Anglo cohorts. A step-wise discriminant analysis indicated that scores on both parents' lateral preference and the visually guided motor factor best predicted group membership. It was concluded that performance on the visually guided motor factor concomitant with familial lateral preference patterns best represented ethnic group differences.