© 2017, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA. All rights reserved.In this work, an optimization tool to determine how the plies should be dropped off in a tapered laminate subjected to a tensile load is developed. This type of laminates is very common in main load carrying members of helicopter rotor blades. The objective is to maximize the ultimate strength of the tapered laminate. The design variables utilized are drop configuration, dropped ply count at a station and drop length. The constraints are thick and thin side thicknesses of the laminate, maximum taper length and some design guidelines. The failure behavior of the tapered laminate is described by two models representing the inplane failure and delamination phenomena. To validate the progressive failure analyses (PFA) used in the optimization algorithm, experimental data from literature is used.