Controlled experiments have shown that the grain-size distribution of suspended sediments is related to bed material, flow velocity and height of suspension above the sand bed in an open channel flow. A theoretical model has been developed for computation of suspended grain-size distribution on the basis of continuity equations of sediment and water, using the computed bed-layer concentration as a reference. The proposed model includes the effect of suspension concentration into the mean velocity, turbulent and viscous shear stresses owing to the dynamic coupling between the flow and sediments in suspension. The effect of hindered settling due to the increased concentration in suspension is also taken into account. The model is considered to be a more general one than the existing models, and the results of the present model compare well with the experimental data. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.