A breeding population has been subjected to repeated selection and crossing by simulation. Unrestricted phenotypic selection and restricted combined index selection were compared at the same effective number for five generations. Results show that phenotypic selection often achieves the gain and diversity possible to achieve by combined index selection but the relative efficiency is different for different family sizes and heritabilities. When phenotypic selection was compared with restricted combined index method at low heritabilities, both methods performed almost equally in terms of gain at the same effective number in small family sizes, although in large families, phenotypic selection was less efficient. At high heritabilities phenotypic selection was as efficient as combined index selection. Phenotypic selection was more efficient in conserving additive variance than combined index selection over five generations compared at the same gain and effective number. The introduction of a dominance component to the total variance had little effect. An increased breeding population size by a factor of ten resulted in an increased additive gain by app. 15%. The conclusion is that even though combined index selection is superior in identifying and extracting the potential for breeding achievements, it is generally not performing better than mass selection when compared at the same effective population size in small families.