A review and a critical study on the optimization of the gas chromatographic separations are made. After dealing with the fundamental gas chromatographic equations, some methods of expressing column performances are discussed: performance indices, performance parameters, resolution and effective plate number per unit time. This is completed with a comparative study on performances of various types of columns. Moreover, optimization methods for operating chromatographic conditions are extensively dealt with: as resolution optimization, separation time, and normalization techniques for the time of analysis in order to achieve the maximum resolution at constant time. Finally, some others non operating parameters such as: selectivity of stationary phases, column preparation and optimization methods by means of computers are studied. (Author) 68 refs.