Abstract The objective of this study was to identify major individual factors that are directly associated with the effectiveness of anti-vibration gloves. Two series of experiments were performed. The first experiment measured the apparent mass of hand–arm system. The second one measured the transmissibility of a typical anti-vibration glove using a palm adapter method recommended in ISO 10819 (International Organisation for Standardization, Geneva, Switzerland, 1996). Six volunteers participated in the experiments. Nine test combinations consisting of three hand–tool coupling actions (grip-only, push-only, and combined grip and push) and three coupling forces (50, 75, and 100 N) were used. This study found that the vibration transmissibility of the glove was reliably correlated with the apparent mass in the frequency range of 40–200 Hz; and that the glove became more effective when the apparent mass was increased. This study further identified the effective stiffness of the hand–arm system at frequencies from 63 to 100 Hz as the key factor that influenced the biodynamic response and the glove transmissibility measured at the palm of the hand. Although not statistically significant, there was a trend that the anti-vibration glove was less effective in the middle frequency range (50–100 Hz) for people with larger hand sizes. Relevance to industry Correlations between glove transmissibility and the biodynamic response of hand–arm system provide a theoretical basis for understanding the effects of various factors that may influence the effectiveness of anti-vibration gloves. This information can also be used to help resolve practical problems with current glove testing standards and to aid in the design, appropriate selection, and effective use of anti-vibration gloves and devices.