Abstract This work focuses on analysing the growing importance of manufacturing strategies for the competitiveness of firms. It is considered that the emphasis on certain manufacturing competitive priorities (or capabilities) and decisions or practices (on the key decision areas) and their internal coherence can be the base for achieving sustainable or lasting advantages over competitors, thus originating superior business performance. The aim of this research work is to analyse whether or not there exists a correlation between the manufacturing strategy and the competitive success or business performance of a sample of large Spanish industrial firms. The database used is mainly made up of the information from a mail survey, aimed at the industrial firms set up in Spain which in 1994 (study reference date) employed over 200 workers. The results obtained, with the proposed methodology, reveal that it is not possible to identify a direct relationship between the manufacturing strategy and business performance of the sample of firms analysed. In this sense, the chosen manufacturing strategy, that is to say, the emphasis on certain manufacturing competitive priorities and decision areas (or practices) and their coherence, does not enable us to distinguish between best and worst performers, and so does not allow us to explain the level of competitiveness of the sample of large Spanish industrial firms analysed in this work.