Global optimization methods such as simulated annealing, genetic algorithms and tabu search are being increasingly used to solve groundwater remediation design and parameter identification problems. While these methods enjoy some unique advantages over traditional gradient based methods, they typically require thousands to tens of thousands of forward simulation runs before reaching optimal or nearoptimal solutions. Thus, one severe limitation associated with these global optimization methods is very long computation time. To mitigate this limitation, this paper presents a new approach for obtaining, repeatedly and efficiently, the solutions of a linear forward simulation model subject to successive perturbations. The proposed approach takes advantage of the fact that successive forward simulation runs, as required by a global optimization procedure, usually involve only slight changes in the coefficient matrices of the resultant linear equations. As a result, the new solution to a system of linear equations perturbed by the changes in aquifer properties and/or sinks/sources can be obtained as the sum of a non-perturbed base solution and the solution to the perturbed portion of the linear equations. The computational efficiency of the proposed approach arises from the fact that the perturbed solution can be derived directly without solving the linear equations again. A two-dimensional test problem with 20 by 30 nodes demonstrates that the proposed approach is much more efficient than repeatedly running the simulation model, by more than 15 times after a fixed number of model evaluations. The ratio of speedup increases with the number of model evaluations and also the size of simulation model. The main limitation of the proposed approach is the large amount of computer memory required to store the inverse matrix. Effective ways for limiting the storage requirement are briefly discussed. q 1998 Elsevier Science Limited. All rights reserved.