A patchwise layup design method is developed for the optimal design of tapered composite laminates in this paper. In the patchwise layup design method, the optimal solution is obtained by integration of an expert system shell, the genetic algorithm, and the finite element method. In this approach, the stacking sequences and the number of plies are simultaneously optimized and the design variables are the discrete ply angles such as 0°, 45°, and 90` and the number of plies in each patch. The tapered composite laminates are compared with unidirectional and quasiisotropic layup with uniform thickness. It shows that the optimized layup by the patchwise layup design method can considerably reduce the total weight of the composite laminates.