This paper presents an analytical method for establishing a stage-fall-discharge rating using hydraulic performance graphs (HPG). The rating curves derived from the HPG are used as the basis to establish the functional relation of stage, fall and discharge through regression analysis following the USGS procedure. In doing so, the conventional trial-and-error process can be avoided and the associated uncertainties involved may be reduced. For illustration, the proposed analytical method is applied to establish stage-fall-discharge relations for the Keelung River in northern Taiwan to examine its accuracy and applicability in an actual river. Based on the data extracted from the HPG for the Keelung River, one can establish a stage-fall-discharge relation that is more accurate than the one obtained by the conventionally used relation. Furthermore, the discharges obtained from the proposed rating method are verified through backwater analysis for measured high water level events. The results indicate that the analytical stage-fall-discharge rating method is capable of circumventing the shortcomings of those based on single-station data and, consequently, enhancing the reliability of flood estimation and forecasting. Copyright (C) 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.