The scope of this paper is to develop the nonlinear meta-models for seakeeping behaviour, considering the fishing vessels. These models are intended to be inserted either in a multiattribute design selection process or in a comprehensive multiobjective optimization procedure. For this purpose, seakeeping data of fishing vessels in regular head waves are used to develop meta-models of transfer functions of heave, pitch and vertical acceleration by nonlinear analysis. A home-made software considers two databases: the first is composed by the ship dimensions and coefficients of fishing vessels, and the second is their ship motion data obtained by employing a strip-theory calculation. The meta-models are proposed to predict the vertical motion characteristics for given ranges of speed and wave length during the concept design stage. The independent variables are hull size (Delta), main dimensions (L, B, T). and some hydrostatic parameters (C-WP, C-VP, L-CB, L-CF, etc.). The results estimated by the software show good correspondences with the ones achieved by direct computations. The study provides additional insight on the influence of hull form parameters on seakeeping performance of small vessels having form properties and parametric range corresponding to the investigated vessels. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.