Abstract The problem of identification of the modal parameters of a structural model using measured ambient response time histories is addressed. A Bayesian time–domain approach for modal updating is presented which is based on an approximation of a conditional probability expansion of the response. It allows one to obtain not only the optimal values of the updated modal parameters but also their associated uncertainties, calculated from their joint probability distribution. Calculation of the uncertainties of the identified modal parameters is very important if one plans to proceed in a subsequent step with the updating of a theoretical finite-element model based on modal estimates. The proposed approach requires only one set of response data. It is found that the updated PDF can be well approximated by a Gaussian distribution centered at the optimal parameters at which the updated PDF is maximized. Examples using simulated data are presented to illustrate the proposed method.