The effects of sensitivity analysis on the performance of aerodynamic design were evaluated. Sensitivities were obtained by both analytical and finite-difference approach. A sensitivity code was developed to analytically obtain sensitivities using the material derivative concept of continuum mechanics. Several design optimizations were performed to evaluate the merits of the analytical approach in comparison with the finite-difference approach. The results show that the analytical approach provides accurate sensitivities consistently, improves the convergence of the design cycle, and hence reduces the design cost. © 2000 The Amarican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc.