A computer program designed to optimize propeller characteristics was developed by combining two main programs: the first is the optimization program based on the gradient algorithm; the second is based on a propeller blade element theory and uses an aerodynamics subprogram to approximate the lift and drag characteristics of the NACA 16-series airfoil section. To evaluate the propeller program alone (with its aerodynamics subprogram), propeller characteristics were computed and compared to those from wind tunnel investigations conducted on three different NACA propellers. Although the thrust and power coefficients which were computed using the blade element theory were generally higher than the experimental results for two of the three propellers, the corresponding efficiencies showed good agreement for all three propellers. The propeller optimization program was then used to study the NACA 4-(5)(08)-03 propeller at various Mach numbers from 0.175 to 0.60. Improvements in propeller efficiency and thrust were obtained through the use of the propeller optimization program.