The broadening mechanisms for micro-free flow electrophoresis (μ-FFE) have been investigated using a van Deemter analysis. Separation power, the product of electric field and residence time, is presented as a parameter for predicting the position of sample streams and for comparing separations under different conditions. Band broadening in μ-FFE is governed by diffusion at lower linear velocities and a migration distance-dependent mechanism at higher linear velocities. At higher linear velocities, the parabolic flow profile is elongated, generating a distribution of analyte residence times in the separation channel. This distribution of residence times gives rise to a distribution of migration distances in the lateral direction since analytes spend different amounts of time in the electric field. Equations were derived to predict the effect of electric field and buffer flow rate on broadening. Experimental data were collected to determine whether the derived equations were useful in explaining broadening caused by diffusion and hydrodynamic flow at different linear velocities and electric fields. Overall there was an excellent correlation between the predicted and experimentally observed values allowing linear velocity and electric field to be optimized. Suppression of electroosmotic flow is proposed as a means of reducing μ-FFE band broadening due to hydrodynamic effects and maximizing resolution and peak capacity.