Abstract Our objective is to find a simple, robust, reasonably powerful test for a shift in one or more of the slopes in a linear time series model at some unknown point of time. Two such tests are ‘Chow's test’ (1960) for a shift at the midpoint of the record and the ‘Farley-Hinich test’ (1970b); both can be performed easily with standard regression programs. In section 2, we compare the asymptotic properties of these tests when the disturbance variance is known. As expected, Chow's test is superior when the true shift is near the middle of the record; with a single, uniformly-distributed explanatory variable, the Farley-Hinich tests dominates over the remaining eighty-four percent of the record. In section 3, we describe the results of some Monte Carlo experiments with a finite sample, which can be summarized as follows. (i) The asymptotic results of section 2 were appropriate for finite sample power comparisons. (ii) The relative performance of the two tests does not depend appreciably on whether the variance is known. (iii) The likelihood ratio test, which is far more costly to perform than the other two tests, does not dominate either Chow's test or the Farley-Hinich test; it has moderately more power at the ends of the record, moderately less in the middle. The conclusion is clear: at low cost (in terms of computer cost and lost power), one can reduce the probability of over- looking a structural shift by routinely performing Chow's test or the Farley-Hinich test.