Centrifugal fans are widely used and the noise generated by these machines causes one of the serious problems. In general, the centrifugal fan noise is often dominated by tones at blade passage frequency and its higher harmonics. This is a consequence of the strong interaction between the flow discharged from the impeller and the cut-off in the casing. However, only a few researches have been carried out on predicting the noise because of the difficulty in obtaining detailed information about the flow field and considering the scattering effect of the casing. The objective of this study is to understand the generation mechanism of sound and to develop a prediction method for the unsteady flow field and the acoustic pressure field of the centrifugal impeller. A discrete vortex method is used to model the centrifugal impeller and a wedge and to calculate the flow field. The force of each element on the blade is calculated by the unsteady Bernoulli equation. Lowson's method is used to predict the acoustic source. In order to consider the scattering and diffraction effects of the casing, Kirchhoff-Helmholtz boundary element method (BEM) is developed. The source of Kirchhoff-Helmholtz BEM is newly developed, so the sound field of the centrifugal fan can be obtained. A centrifugal impeller and wedge are used in the numerical calculation and the results are compared with the experimental data. Reasonable results are obtained not only for the peak frequencies but also for the amplitudes of the tonal sound. The radiated acoustic field shows the diffraction and scattering effect of the wedge. (C) 2002 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.