Despite meiofauna being one of the most popular tool for detecting the ecological effects of different sources of impact, the application of structured experimental designs to this benthic component is typically neglected, especially in subtidal rocky shores. In this study, an asymmetrical design was used to detect hard-bottom meiofaunal abundance and biodiversity response to sewage discharge. Sampling was carried out at a depth of 3-4 m by SCUBA diving, by means of a modified manual corer. Six replicate cores were collected at three sites (80-100 m apart), at each of three locations (one purportedly impacted [I] and two controls [Cs]). A total of 84,994 specimens were collected. The outfall affected meiofaunal assemblages in terms of taxon richness, by determining a significant reduction of the number of taxa in the disturbed location, and community structure, by causing functional changes in terms of a decrease of the abundance of nematodes and an increase of the hydrozoan component. Nematodes and syllid polychaetes showed significant lower average abundance at I. Multivariate analyses showed that both meiofaunal assemblage and syllids were significantly different at I compared with Cs. The sewage outfall also affected patterns of spatial distribution at the scale of site (100 m apart) and of replicate units (centimetres apart), both in syllids and in nematodes. Our results provide evidence that the selection of multiple controls is crucial to prevent the widespread risk of Type II error, highlighting the need of more accurate experimental designs when dealing with meiofauna.