A numerical model to simulate the transport of suspended sediment in tidal estuaries is presented. The model is applied to the two large European estuaries the Tagus (Portugal) and the Scheldt (Belgium-The Netherlands). Calculated suspended sediment concentrations compare favourably with observations in the Tagus (r=0.84) and in the Scheldt (r=0.73). The parametrization scheme indicates that the bottom content of fine sediment is correlated with depth in the Tagus; but a different relationship is used in the Scheldt. Because of tidal range differences, average suspended sediment concentrations are lower in the Tagus (80 mg l−1) than in the Scheldt (130 mg l−1), but a larger relative variation between spring and neap tide concentrations may occur in the Tagus.