An explicit neural network formulation (ENNF) is developed for estimating reference evapotranspiration (ET0) using daily meteorological variables obtained from the California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) database. First, the ENNF is trained and tested using the CIMIS database. and then compared with five conventional ET0 models, as well as the multiple linear regression method. Statistics such as average, standard deviation, minimum and maximum values, and criteria such as mean square error and determination coefficient are used to Measure the performance of the ENNF. Daily atmospheric data of four climatic stations in central California are taken into consideration in the model development and those of three other stations are used for comparison purposes. The meteorological Variables employed in the formulation are solar radiation, air temperature, relative humidity and wind speed. It is concluded from the results that ENNF offers an alternative ET0 formulation, but that the gain in skill is marginal compared with simpler linear techniques. However, this finding needs to be tested using sites drawn from a wider range of climate regimes.