Genetic algorithms are investigated for use in obtaining optimal component configurations in dynamic engineering systems. Given a system layout, a database of component information from manufacturers’ catalogs, and a design specification, genetic algorithms are used to successfully select an optimal set of components. Five different algorithms are investigated for use on an hydraulic example. The algorithms are compared on the basis of expected hitting lime: the number of system simulations required to find the solution. One algorithm is found to have the best set of characteristics for solving component selection problems.