Abstract Efficient calculation of electrostatic interactions in colloidal systems is becoming more important with the advent of such probing techniques as atomic force microscopy. Such practice requires solving the nonlinear Poisson–Boltzmann equation (PBE). Unfortunately, explicit analytical solutions are available only for the weakly charged surfaces. Analysis of arbitrarily charged surfaces is possible only through cumbersome numerical computations. A compact analytical solution of the one-dimensional PBE is presented for two plates interacting in symmetrical electrolytes. The plates can have arbitrary surface potentials at infinite separation as long they have the same sign. Such a condition covers a majority of the colloidal systems encountered. The solution leads to a simple relationship which permits determination of surface potentials, surface charge densities, and electrostatic pressures as a function of plate separation H for different charging scenarios. An analytical expression is also presented for the potential profile between the plates for a given separation. Comparison of these potential profiles with those obtained by numerical analysis shows the validity of the proposed solution.