Summary. We study generalized linear latent variable models without requiring a distributional assumption of the latent variables. Using a geometric approach, we derive consistent semiparametric estimators. We demonstrate that these models have a property which is similar to that of a sufficient complete statistic, which enables us to simplify the estimating procedure and explicitly to formulate the semiparametric estimating equations. We further show that the explicit estimators have the usual root n consistency and asymptotic normality. We explain the computational implementation of our method and illustrate the numerical performance of the estimators in finite sample situations via extensive simulation studies. The advantage of our estimators over the existing likelihood approach is also shown via numerical comparison. We employ the method to analyse a real data example from economics.