In this paper, an exergetic optimization has been developed to determine the optimal performance and design parameters of a solar photovoltaic thermal (PV/T) air collector. A detailed energy and exergy analysis has been carried out to calculate the thermal and electrical parameters, exergy components, and exergy efficiency of a typical PV/T air collector. The thermal and electrical parameters of a PV/T air collector include solar cell temperature, back surface temperature, outlet air temperature, open-circuit voltage, short-circuit current, maximum power point voltage, maximum power point current, etc. An improved electrical model has been used to estimate the electrical parameters of a PV/T air collector. Furthermore, a new equation for the exergy efficiency of a PV/T air collector has been derived in terms of design and climatic parameters. A computer simulation program has been also developed to calculate the thermal and electrical parameters of a PV/T air collector. The results of numerical simulation are in good agreement with the experimental measurements noted in the previous literature. Moreover, the simulation results obtained in this paper are more precise than the one given by the previous literature, and the new exergy efficiency obtained in this paper is in good agreement with the one given by the previous literature. Finally, exergetic optimization has been carried out under given climatic, operating, and design parameters. The optimized values of inlet air velocity, duct length, and the maximum exergy efficiency have been found. Parametric studies have been also carried out. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.