There is an increasing use of on-line data acquisition systems in industry. This usually leads to autocorrelated data and implies that the assumption of independent observations has to be re-examined. Most decision procedures for capability analysis assume independent data. In this article we present a new way of performing capability analysis when data are autocorrelated. This method is based on what can be called the 'iterative skipping' strategy. In that, by skipping a pre-determined number of observations, e.g. considering every fifth observation, the data set is divided into subsamples for which the independence assumption may be valid. For each such subsample of the data we estimate a capability index. Then traditional tests, assuming independence, can be performed based on each estimated capability index from the subsamples. By combining the information from each test statistic based on the subsamples in a suitable way, a new and efficient decision procedure is obtained. We discuss different ways of combining the information from these individual tests. A main appeal of our proposed method is that no time-series model is needed. Copyright (C) 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.