Composite materials have been finding increasing applications in the field of transportation. A U.S.A. patent suggesting the use of composite materials for railway wheels is the basis for this paper. In thispaper, the natural vibrations of railway wheels made of composite materials have been theoretically estimated by the finite element method and compared with those in wheels made of steel. A thick conical shell element with displacements in the axial, radial and circumferential directions has been used in the analysis. This element brings out the coupling between the different modes of vibration, and this aspect is important in the dynamic analysis of composite wheels. Three geometries of wheels and two materials (Kevlar-epoxy and graphite-epoxy) have been used in the study. For each of these materials, two fiber orientations (radial and circumferential) have been taken up and their natural frequencies determined. © 1992.