An analytical approach using a Winkler model is investigated to provide analytical solutions of settlement of a rectangular pile subjected to vertical loads in nonhomogeneous soils. For a vertically loaded pile with a rectangular cross section, the settlement influence factor of a normal pile in nonhomogeneous soils is derived from Mindlin's solution for elastic continuum analysis. For short piles with rectangular and circular cross sections, the modified forms of settlement influence factors of normal piles are produced taking into account the load transfer parameter proposed by Randolph for short circular piles. The modulus of subgrade reaction along a rectangular pile in nonhomogeneous soils is expressed by using the settlement influence factor related to Mindlin's solution to combine the elastic continuum approach with the subgrade-reaction approach. The relationship between settlement and vertical load for a rectangular pile in nonhomogeneous soils is available in the form of the recurrence equation. The formulation of settlement of soils surrounding a rectangular pile subjected to vertical loads in nonhomogeneous soils is proposed by taking into account Mindlin's solution and both the equivalent thickness and the equivalent elastic modulus for layers in the equivalent elastic method. The difference of settlement between square and circular piles is insignificant, and the settlement of a rectangular pile decreases as the aspect ratio of the rectangular pile cross section increases. The comparison of results calculated by the present method for a rectangular pile in nonhomogeneous soils has shown good agreement with those obtained from the analytical methods and the finite element method. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.