This paper presents a methodology for the design of plate-forming dies in cylindrical bending using optimization techniques to reduce the cost of die production by reducing the trial-and-error procedure considerably in determining the final die geometry. The plate thickness is discretized by plane-strain finite-elements. The die is taken to be rigid and its profile is approximated by Bezier curves the control-point coordinates of which are the design variables. The die profile is varied to minimize the difference between the required shape and the shape of the bent plate, considering springback action. The unconstrained optimization problem is solved by the BFGS (Broyden-Fletcher-Goldfarb-Shanno) method. A numerical example is presented where the optimum die profile is obtained for a plate bent into a quarter circle. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science S.A.