To investigate perceived differences in the ability of current software to simulate the actual outcome of orthognathic surgery, we chose 10 difficult test cases with vertical discrepancies and "retreated" them using the actual surgical changes. Five programs--Dentofacial Planner Plus, Dolphin Imaging, Orthoplan, Quick Ceph Image, and Vistadent--were evaluated, by using both the default result and a refined result created with each program's enhancement tools. Three panels (orthodontists, oral-maxillofacial surgeons, and laypersons) judged the default images and the retouched simulations by ranking the simulations in side-by-side comparisons and by rating each simulation relative to the actual outcome on a 6-point scale. For the default and retouched images, Dentofacial Planner Plus was judged the best default simulation 79% and 59% of the time, respectively, and its default images received the best (lowest) mean score (2.46) on the 6-point scale. It also scored best (2.26) when the retouched images were compared, but the scores for Dolphin Imaging (2.83) and Quick Ceph (3.03) improved. Retouching had little impact on the scores for the other programs. Although the results show differences in simulation ability, selecting a software package depends on many factors. Performance and ease of use, cost, compatibility, and other features such as image and practice management tools are all important considerations. Users concerned with operating system compatibility and practice management integration might want to consider Dolphin Imaging and Quick Ceph, the programs comprising the second tier.