In this study, a new shell and tube heat exchanger optimization design approach is developed. Artificial Bee Colony (ABC) has been applied to minimize the total cost of the equipment including capital investment and the sum of discounted annual energy expenditures related to pumping of shell and tube heat exchanger by varying various design variables such as tube length, tube outer diameter, pitch size, baffle spacing, etc. Finally, the results are compared to those obtained by literature approaches. The obtained results indicate that Artificial Bee Colony (ABC) algorithm can be successfully applied for optimal design of shell and tube heat exchangers. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.