Designing a high-performance twist drill is difficult due to the complex relationship between drill geometry and numerous and conflicting design goals. Earlier approaches of computer-aided twist drill design are limited to only few design aspects. This article presents a new holistic method of using computing power for twist drill design and optimization. A complete drill geometry model is used to obtain drill performance characteristics and to ensure functional capability. Numerical simulation models calculate structural stiffness and strength, torque and thrust force, coolant flow resistance, chip evacuation capability and chip flute grindability. A multi-objective geometry optimization is realized by implementing metaheuristic optimization algorithms. As a result, a numerical overall optimization of twist drill performance is possible. (C) 2010 CIRP.