A finite-time thermoeconomic performance analysis based on a new kind of optimization criterion has been carried out for a two-stage endoreversible combined refrigeration cycle model. The optimal performances and design parameters that maximize the objective function (cooling load per total cost) are investigated. In this context, the optimal temperatures of the working fluids, the optimum performance coefficient, the optimum specific cooling load and the optimal distribution of the beat exchanger areas are determined in terms of technical and economical parameters. The effects of the economical parameter that characterizes the investment and energy consumption costs on the general and the optimal performances have been discussed. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd and IIR. All rights reserved.