To counter the prevailing unsystematic approach to the use of polygraph data, a generalized decision theory approach applicable to a variety of polygraph uses is discussed. Examples of applications of decision theoretic tools to the polygraph interrogation problem are then presented, and typical misuses of the polygraph as a basis for decisions are described. A computed example based on accumulated experimental validity data for 399 Ss was constructed to show how decision analyses should be used in polygraph interrogation. These analyses supplied first approximations for the limits within which a polygraph interrogation system might be used as a sole decision tool. Recommendations for polygraph users are also discussed. (23 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).