Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and structural equation modeling (SEM) are compared as alternative approaches to the detection of multivariate mean differences in between groups designs. MANOVA remains the most commonly implemented multivariate test of between groups mean differences. When the set of outcome variables reflects a latent-variable system rather than an emergent-variable system, however, SEM provides an elegant alternative to MANOVA. Three generic types of latent-variable systems were considered. In the simplest case, SEM and MANOVA led to very similar substantive interpretations. In the 2 more complex variable systems, SEM provided parameter estimates and collateral information that was at least as informative as those provided by MANOVA. Researchers are encouraged to consider more carefully the nature of their variable systems before choosing too casually MANOVA over SEM.