A practical, low order and potential-based surface panel method is presented to predict the flow around a three-dimensional rectangular foil section including the effect of boundary layer. The method is based on a boundary-integral formulation, known as the "Morino formulation" and the boundary layer effect is taken into account through a complementary thin boundary layer model. The numerical approach used in the method presents a strongly convergent solution based on the iterative wake roll-up and contraction model including the boundary layer effect. The method is applied to a three-dimensional foil section for which the velocity distribution around the foil was measured using a 2D Laser Doppler Velocimetry system in a large cavitation tunnel. Comparison of the predicted velocity distributions both inside and outside of the boundary layer of the foil as well as the boundary layer shapes obtained from the numerical model show fairly good correlation with the measurements, indicating the robustness and practical worthiness of the proposed method. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.