This paper presents the design and validation of the high performance and low noise Chong Qing University and Technical University of Denmark LN1 (CQU-DTU-LN1) series of airfoils for wind turbine applications. The new design method uses target characteristics of wind turbine airfoils in the design objective, such as airfoil lift coefficient, drag coefficient and lift-drag ratio, and minimizes trailing edge noise as a constraint. To express airfoil shape, an analytical expression is used. One of the main advantages of the present design method is that it produces a highly smooth airfoil shape that can avoid the problem of curvature discontinuity. An airfoil profile with discontinuous curvature can produce a discontinuous pressure gradient (i.e., local flow acceleration or deceleration), which enhances flow separation and thus decreases the airfoil performance. By combining the design method with the blade element momentum theory, the viscous-inviscid xfoil code and an airfoil self-noise prediction model, an optimization algorithm has been developed for designing the high performance and low noise CQU-DTU-LN1 series of airfoils with targets of maximum power coefficient and low noise emission. To validate the airfoil design, CQU-DTU-LN118 airfoil has been tested experimentally in the acoustic wind tunnel located at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), USA. To show the superiority of the CQU-DTU-LN1 airfoils, comparisons on aerodynamic performance and noise emission between the CQU-DTU-LN118 airfoil and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) 64618 airfoil, which is used in modern wind turbine blades, are carried out. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.