A fuzzy finite element model updating (FFEMU) method is presented in this study for the damage detection problem. The uncertainty caused by the measurement noise in modal parameters is described by fuzzy numbers. Inverse analysis is formulated as a constrained optimization problem at each a-cut level. Membership functions of each updating parameter which correspond to reduction in bending stiffness of the finite elements is determined by minimizing an objective function using a hybrid version of genetic algorithms (GA) and particle swarm optimization method (PSO) which is very efficient in terms of accuracy and robustness. Practical evaluation of the approximate bounds of the interval modal parameters in FFEMU iterations is addressed. A probabilistic analysis is performed using Monte Carlo simulation (MCS) and the results are compared with presented FFEMU method. It is apparent from numerical simulations that the proposed method is well capable in finding the membership functions of the updating parameters within reasonable accuracy. It is also shown that the results obtained by FFEMU are in good agreement with the MCS results while FFEMU is not as computationally expensive as the MCS method. Nevertheless, the proposed FFEMU do not required derivatives of the objective function like existing methods except in the deterministic case. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.