Estimates of sediment load are required in a wide spectrum of water resources engineering problems. The nonlinear nature of suspended sediment load series necessitates the utilization of nonlinear methods for simulating the suspended sediment load. In this study artificial neural networks (ANNs) are employed to estimate the daily total suspended sediment load on rivers. Two different ANN algorithms, the feed-forward back-propagation (FFBP) method and the radial basis functions (RBF), were used for this purpose. The neural networks are trained using rainfall flow and suspended sediment load data from the Juniata Catchment, USA. The simulations provided satisfactory simulations in terms of the selected performance criteria comparing well with conventional multi-linear regression. Similarly, the simulated sediment load hydrographs obtained by two ANN methods are found closer to the observed ones again compared with multi-linear regression. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.