Abstract The generation of optimal heat integrated separation sequences is an important and basic task in chemical process design. The efficient generation of these sequences is crucial because design packages must generate many such sequences. We describe the use of parallel computers to reduce the time required to determine the optimal sequences. In this paper, we concentrate on the use of discrete programming techniques, with particular emphasis on the use of dynamic programming, as implemented on distributed memory multi-computers. We show that, although dynamic programming was superseded for some problems by the use of combined methods including branch and bound for serial machines, a parallel implementation of dynamic programming for process synthesis can be superior.