Based on a US patent, railroad wheels made of composite materials have been analyzed for static loads. The studies have been made using the finite element method. Comparison of results obtained from two elements based on a thin and a thick shell theory have been made. It is found that the stresses predicted by the thick shell theory are slightly higher than those predicted by the thin shell theory. However, significant differences are present in the case of displacements predicted by the two theories. Earlier studies have shown that thick shell theory predicts deflections better than thin shell theories; and as deflections are an important parameter in the case of railroad wheels, it is suggested that it is better to use the thick shell theory in the analysis of railroad wheels. Kevlar epoxy and graphite epoxy are the two materials used in the analysis and in each case, radial and circumferential orientations have been considered. © 1992.