The combination of densely-spaced strong-motion stations in Parkfield, California, and spectral analysis of surface waves (SASW) profiles provides an ideal dataset for assessing the accuracy of different site response explanatory variables. We judge accuracy in terms of spatial coverage and correlation with observations. The performance of the alternative models is period-dependent, but generally we observe that: (1) where a profile is available, the square-root-of-impedance method outperforms VS30 (average S-wave velocity to 30 m depth), and (2) where a profile is unavailable, the topographic-slope method outperforms surficial geology. The fundamental site frequency is a valuable site response explanatory variable, though less valuable than VS30. However, given the expense and difficulty of obtaining reliable estimates of VS30 and the relative ease with which the fundamental site frequency can be computed, the fundamental site frequency may prove to be a valuable site response explanatory variable for many applications. ?? 2011 ASCE.