A multi-start global optimization technique is used to investigate the lamination arrangements of laminated composite plates designed for maximum stiffness. The multi-start global optimization technique which originated from the concept of minimizing the potential energy of a moving particle in a conservative force field is extended to the optimal design of laminated composite plates in which the strain energies of the plates are minimized. The optimization algorithm has been proved to be efficient and effective in producing the global optima. Numerical examples of the selection of optimal lamination arrangements of symmetrically laminated composite plates with different aspect ratios subject to different loading conditions are given. The results show that aspect ratio, loading condition and material property can affect the optimal lamination arrangement.