Many marketing strategies seem based on the notion that consumers respond more strongly to products that are being offered for free than a rational calculation would predict. Such a preference would be consistent with some existing research on ways that marketing takes advantage of irrational behavior, and research findings in mental accounting and budgeting might bear on the apparent irrational appeal of free. A series of experiments on people’s preferences produced mixed results. One experiment suggested that a cheaper, but inferior, movie, was preferred over a more expensive better one when that movie was free, but not when it was similarly discounted but not free. However, other experiments did not reveal any consumer preference for free items in a variety of hypothetical choices, from buy-one-get-one-free offers to free gifts with magazine subscriptions. Overall, the results do not support a view that free items have a markedly powerful effect on choices, at least relative to equivalent discounts.