This paper proposes a new differential evolution approach named as multiagent based differential evolution (MADE) based on multiagent systems, for solving optimal power flow problem with non-smooth and non-convex generator fuel cost curves. This method integrates multiagent systems (MAS) and differential evolution (DE) algorithm. An agent in MADE represents an individual to DE and a candidate solution to the optimization problem. All agents live in a lattice like environment, with each agent fixed on a lattice point. In order to obtain optimal solution quickly, each agent competes and cooperates with its neighbors and it can also use knowledge. Making use of these agent-agent interaction and DE mechanism, MADE realizes the purpose of minimizing the value of objective function. MADE applied to optimal power flow is evaluated on 6 bus system and IEEE 30 bus system with different generator characteristics. Simulation results show that the proposed method converges to better solutions much faster than earlier reported approaches. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.