A method is proposed for the determination of the optimum value of the regularization parameter (Lagrange multiplier) when applying indirect transform techniques in small-angle scattering data analysis. The method is based on perceptual criteria of what is the best solution. A set of simple criteria is used to construct a total estimate describing the quality of the solution. Maximization of the total estimate is straightforward. Model computations show the effectiveness of the technique. The method is implemented in the program GNOM [Svergun, Semenyuk & Feigin (1988). Acta Cryst. A44, 244–250].