We analyse the all-pay auction with incomplete information and variance-averse bidders. We characterise the unique symmetric equilibrium for general distributions of valuations and any number of bidders. Variance aversion is a sufficient assumption to predict that high-valuation bidders increase their bids relative to the risk-neutral case while low types decrease their bid. Considering an asymmetric two-player environment with uniformly distributed valuations, we show that a variance-averse player always bids higher than her risk-neutral opponent with the same valuation. Utilising our analytically derived bidding functions we discuss all-pay auctions with variance-averse bidders from an auction designer’s perspective. We briefly consider possible extensions of our model, including noisy signals, type-dependent attitudes towards risk, and variance-seeking preferences.