This thesis presents a methodology for the design optimization of hydraulic runner blades. The originality of the methodology comes from the geometric definition of the blade shapes, which uses parametric surfaces instead of a set of profiles. The main advantage of using surfaces is the number of parameters required. The use of surfaces requires a different technique for the blade construction when compared to traditional approaches. NURBS surfaces are used for the geometric representation, the properties provided by such parametric formulation permit to reach the necessary flexibility and accuracy to be attained. Moreover, the surface approach can be seen as a way to liberate the blade design from traditional discrete sectional approaches. Actual blade optimization procedures are a compromise between the quality of the design, its performance analysis and the subsequent computational time-consumed effort. The improvements provided by the above mentioned geometric definition allow the use of more realistic analysis tools for the design evaluation. Thus, Navier-Stokes (k – ε) simulations are integrated in a simple and direct optimization process. The resulting methodology is not penalized by the time-effort required and becomes of interest for its use in industrial applications. Finally, we supply a number of examples to demonstrate the feasibility of the optimization proposal. These examples illustrate the application of the methodology at different levels of geometric complexity. They are interesting not only through the results obtained, but also because they become acceptable in terms of time consumed on daily and industrial applications.