Abstract A model to predict the growth of commercial timber in north Queensland's rainforests is described. More than 100 commercial species and several hundred other tree species are aggregated into about 20 species groups based on growth habit, volume relationships and commercial criteria. Trees are grouped according to species group and tree size into cohorts, which form the basis for simulation. Equations for predicting increment, mortality and recruitment are presented. The implications of the model on rainforest management for timber production are examined. The model has been used in setting the timber harvest from these rainforests, and should provide an objective basis for investigating the impact of rainforest management strategies. The approach should be applicable to other indigenous forests.