A more realistic application of the entropy minimization principle EoEP is presented. This principle dictates uniform local entropy generations along the heat exchanger in order to minimize the total entropy generation rate due only to heat transfer. For a certain heat duty and area of an existing exchanger, this is done by changing the temperatures of one fluid while the temperatures of the other fluid are held constant. Since the heat duty is fixed, the change in the temperatures of the fluid after the change, however, may sometimes cause a drastic change in its flow rate. This may cause considerable changes in the overall heat transfer coefficient (U) and, consequently, in the entropy generation rate. Depending on the choice of the fluid for changing, the new entropy generation rates may be higher or lower than those based on constant U as is the case in papers recently published. So, the classical application of the EoEP principle needs to be modified to achieve more realistic entropy generation rates. In this study, the principle of EoEP with variable U is applied to some cases of heat exchange, and a simple method is presented as a criterion for the proper choice of the fluid to be changed. (c) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.