In this paper, we propose an intelligent distributed query processing method considering the characteristics of a distributed ontology environment. We suggest more general models of the distributed ontology query and the semantic mapping among distributed ontologies compared with the previous works. Our approach rewrites a distributed ontology query into multiple distributed ontology queries using the semantic mapping, and we can obtain the integrated answer through the execution of these queries. Furthermore, we propose a distributed ontology query processing algorithm with several query optimization techniques: pruning rules to remove unnecessary queries, a cost model considering site load balancing and caching, and a heuristic strategy for scheduling plans to be executed at a local site. Finally, experimental results show that our optimization techniques are effective to reduce the response time. (C) 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.