This paper describes and discusses a framework that facilitates the development of clinical guideline application tasks. The framework, named GASTON covers all stages in the guideline development process, ranging from the definition of models that represent guidelines to the implementation of run-time systems that provide decision support, based on the guidelines that were developed during the earlier stages. The GASTON framework consists of (1) a newly developed guideline representation formalism that uses the concepts of primitives, problem-solving methods (PSMs) and ontologies to represent the guidelines of various complexity and granularity and different application domains, (2) a guideline authoring environment that enables guideline authors to define the guidelines, based on the newly developed guideline representation formalism and (3) a guideline execution environment that translates defined guidelines into a more efficient symbol level representation, which can be read in and processed by an execution time engine. The paper describes a number of design criteria that were formulated regarding the aspects of guideline representation, guideline authoring and guideline execution and explains the framework by example in terms of the four stages that were identified in the guideline development process and the tools that were developed to support each stage. It also shows examples of systems that were developed by means of the GASTON framework.