Adaptive digital filters have proven their worth in a wide ran e of applications such as channel equalisation, noise reduction, echo cancelling, and system identification. These filters can be broadly classified into two groups: finite impulse-response (FIR) and infinite impulse-response (IIR) filters. IIR filters have become the target of increasing interest because these filters can reduce the filter order significantly as compared to FIR filters. Tabu search is a heuristic optimisation algorithm which has been originally developed for combinatorial optimisation problems. It simulates the general rules of intelligent problem solving and has the ability of discovering the global minima in a multi-modal search space. In this work, a novel method based on tabu search is described for the design of adaptive IIR filters. (c) 2004 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.