The International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) will provide a uniform global climatology of satellite-measured radiances and derive a climatology of cloud radiative properties from these radiances. For this purpose, a pilot study of cloud analysis algorithms was initiated to define a state-of-the-art algorithm for ISCCP. This study compared the results of applying the nine different algorithms to the same satellite radiance data. The comparison allowed for a sharper understanding of the process of detecting clouds and shows that all algorithms can be improved by better information about clear sky radiance values (essentially equivalent to surface property information) and by better understanding of cloud size distribution variations. The dependence of all methods on cloud size distribution led to selection of an advanced bispectral threshold technique for ISCCP because this method is currently better understood and more developed. Further research on cloud algorithms is clearly suggested by these results.