In complex work environments, the occurrence of novel system states represents a particular challenge for the design of training. This article is concerned with the use of heuristic rules to prepare operators for the management of unfamiliar fault states. An experiment was carried out to examine the effects of heuristic rule training on operator performance and system management behaviour. Thirty-nine trainee operators from the chemical industry took part in the study. They were trained for 4 h on a PC-based simulation of a process control task. Operators in the experimental group received training on heuristic rules while operators in the control group did not. One week later the operators participated in a 70-min testing session. While the results showed that heuristic rules training led to better diagnostic performance, it was also associated with increased operator fatigue and impaired secondary task performance. The implications of the findings for using heuristic rule training are discussed.