An analytical procedure is developed to design and predict the behavior of fiber reinforced composite pressure vessels. The classical lamination theory and generalized plane strain model is used in the formulation of the elasticity problem. Internal pressure, axial force and body force due to rotation in addition to temperature and moisture variation throughout the body are considered. Some 3D failure theories are applied to obtain the optimum values for the winding angle, burst pressure, maximum axial force and the maximum angular speed of the pressure vessel. These parameters are also investigated considering hygrothermal effects. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.