The spectral ratio technique is a common useful way to estimate empirical transfer function to evaluates site effects in regions of moderate to high seismicity. The purpose of this paper is to show that it is possible to estimate empirical transfer function using spectral ratios between horizontal and vertical components of motion without a reference station. The technique, originally proposed by Nakamura to analyze Rayleigh waves in the microtremor records, is presented briefly and it is discussed why it may be applicable to study the intense S-wave part in earthquake records. Results are presented for three different cities in Mexico: Oaxaca, Oax., Acapulco, Gro., and Mexico City. These cities are very different by their geological and tectonic contexts and also by the very different epicentral distances to the main seismogenic zones affecting each city. Each time we compare the results of Nakamura's technique with standard spectral ratios. In all three cases the results are very encouraging. We conclude that, if site effects are caused by simple geology, a first estimate of dominant period and local amplification level can be obtained using records of only one station.