This paper presents a simplified Maximum A Posteriori (SMAP) channel estimator to be used in orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) systems under the Rayleigh fading assumption for the subchannels, using a parametric correlation model and assuming that the channel is frequency selective and slowly time varying. Expressions for the mean-square error (MSE) of estimations are derived to evaluate the performance of the estimator. The relation between the correlation of subchannels taps and error variance is investigated. Dependencies of the proposed estimator's performance on the correlation parameter estimation error and signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) estimation error are analysed. We provide approximations on the estimator algorithms in order to make the estimator practical. The simulations done using measured channel data show that the proposed estimator with approximations operates satisfactorily with negligible loss in performance. Finally, we investigate the symbol error rate (SER) performance of an OFDM system using quadrature phase-shift keying (QPSK) modulation, based on channel estimation modes (a) training sequence (b) decision feedback and (c) pilot subcarriers. The results have indicated that the proposed estimator performance is always better than maximum likelihood (ML) estimator, and as the subchannel correlation increases (large number of subcarriers) the performance comes very close to that of exactly known channel case. Copyright (C) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.