This paper presents a new technique for the detectionof islanding conditions in electrical power systems. This problem isespecially prevalent in systems with significant penetrations of distributedrenewable generation. The proposed technique is based onthe application of principal component analysis (PCA) to data setsof wide-area frequency measurements, recorded by phasor measurementunits. The PCA approach was able to detect islandingaccurately and quickly when compared with conventional RoCoFtechniques, as well as with the frequency difference and change-ofangledifference methods recently proposed in the literature. Thereliability and accuracy of the proposed PCA approach is demonstratedby using a number of test cases, which consider islandingand nonislanding events. The test cases are based on real data,recorded from several phasor measurement units located in theU.K. power system.