In this paper, we propose to use a new nonparametric noncoherent detector for PN code acquisition in DS/CDMA systems. Because this detector is nonparametric, we can decide the threshold of the detector without first having to estimate the variance of time-varying interference. We compare the single-dwell scheme using the proposed detector with that using the conventional detector. From the simulation results, it is clear that the DS/CDMA system with the proposed detector has better performance than that with the conventional detector when the exact estimation of the interference variance is not possible. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.