A computational model is developed to investigate inelastic deformations of variable thickness rotating annular disks mounted on rigid shafts. The von Mises yield condition and its flow rule are combined with Swift's hardening law to simulate nonlinear hardening material behavior. An efficient numerical solution procedure is designed and used throughout to handle the nonlinearities associated with the von Mises yield condition and the boundary condition at the shaft-annular disk interface. The results of the computations are verified by comparison with an analytical solution employing Tresca's criterion available in the literature. Inelastic stresses and deformations are calculated for rotating variable thickness disks described by two different commonly used disk profile functions i.e. power and exponential forms. Plastic limit angular velocities for these disks are calculated for different values of the geometric and hardening parameters. These critical angular velocities are found to increase as the edge thickness of the disk reduces. Lower plastic limit angular velocities are obtained for disks made of nonlinearly hardening materials. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.