Humans change the landscapes and especially the coastal zones for their requirements. The aim of the study was to analyse land use changes in the Çeşme coastal zone, Turkey, during a 48-year period (1957–2005) using remote sensing and GIS. In this study, land use changes in the Çeşme coastal zone were analysed using the four sets of land use maps derived from aerial photographs and classified satellite image taken in the years 1957, 1976, 1995 and 2005. Post-classification algorithm change detection was applied to observe land use changes during three time periods: Period 1 (1957–1976), Period 2 (1976–1995) and Period 3 (1995–2005). The results showed that natural land cover and agricultural lands decreased and built-up area increased throughout the study area during the 48-year period between 1957 and 2005. Furthermore, land use change was successively increased in Period 1, Period 3 and Period 2. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.