The past decade has seen great advances in our knowledge of the finite strains in rocks deformed by natural tectonic processes. The current methods used in measuring strains are reviewed. These techniques rely on a knowledge of either lengths or relative lengths of lines before and after deformation, or of angles between line elements. Special techniques used in veined gneisses which have been used to assess the tectonics of Precambrian orogenic zones are discussed with regard to their validity in situations of volume dilation. The standard finite strain measurement techniques have now been extended to evaluate the sequence of progressive displacement and progressive strain in certain orogenic zones. Several types of regional strain patterns can now be recognized and these appear to be linked to differing tectonic environments.