This review addresses methodological issues in the assessment of blood pressure variability and the predictive value of blood pressure variability derived from blood pressure readings obtained in the relaxed home environment. Preference should be given to indexes of blood pressure variability that are independent of the mean because we should evaluate the impact of blood pressure variability by eliminating the effect of blood pressure levels. Beat-to-beat blood pressure recordings outperform home blood pressure measurement in the assessment of blood pressure variability in longitudinal Belgian and Japanese population studies, whereas blood pressure variability did not incrementally predict outcome beyond blood pressure level and other cardiovascular risk factors. In conclusion, clinicians should focus on blood pressure level, given that it is the predominant risk factor and is manageable by lifestyle modifications and adequate antihypertensive drug treatment. Blood pressure variability remains a research tool that requires further prospective studies with hard end points to define its potential application, as it may be potentially useful in daily clinical practice.Hypertension Research advance online publication, 16 October 2014; doi:10.1038/hr.2014.153.