Abstract Each of n jobs is to be processed without interruption on a single machine which can handle only one job at a time. Each job becomes available for processing at its release date, requires a processing time and has a positive weight. Given a processing order of the jobs, the earliest completion time for each job can be computed. The objective is to find a processing order of the jobs which minimizes the sum of weighted completion times. In this paper a branch and bound algorithm for the problem is derived. Firstly a heuristic is presented which is used in calculating the lower bound. Then the lower bound is obtained by performing a Lagrangean relaxation of the release date constraints; the Lagrange multipliers are chosen so that the sequence generated by the heuristic is an optimum solution of the relaxed problem thus yielding a lower bound. A method to increase the lower bound by deriving improved constraints to replace the original release date constraints is given. The algorithm, which includes several dominance rules, is tested on problems with up to fifty jobs. The computational results indicate that the version of the lower bound using improved constraints is superior to the original version.