In this paper, a performance optimization based on ecological coefficient of performance (ECOP) criterion has been carried out for an irreversible air refrigeration cycles. The considered model includes irreversibilities due to finite-rate heat transfer, heat leakage and internal dissipations. The ECOP objective function is defined as the ratio of cooling load to the loss rate of availability (or entropy generation rate). The maximum of the ecological performance criterion and the corresponding optimal conditions have been derived analytically. The effects of irreversibility parameters on the general and optimal performances discussed detailed. The obtained results may provide a general theoretical tool for the ecological design of air refrigerators. (c) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.