The development of orienting response (OR) theory has not been accompanied by many applications of the concept-most research still appears to be lab-based and "pure," rather than "applied." We present some examples from our own work in which the OR perspective has been applied in a wider context. These cover the exploration of processing deficits in autistic children, aspects of the "repression" of anxiety in elite athletes, and the locus of alcohol effects. Such applications of the OR concept in real-life situations seem a logical and, indeed, necessary step in the evolution of this area of psychophysiology. © 1990 Springer.