This article compares techniques for calculating broadband time histories of ground motion in the near field of a finite fault by comparing synthetics with the strong-motion data set for the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Based on this comparison, a preferred methodology is presented. Ground-motion-simulation techniques are divided into two general methods: kinematic- and composite-fault models. Green's functions of three types are evaluated: stochastic, empirical, and theoretical. A hybrid scheme is found to give the best fit to the Northridge data. Low frequencies (< 1 Hz) are calculated using a kinematic-fault model and a 3D finite-difference code to propagate energy through a realistic 3D velocity structure. High frequencies (> 1 Hz) are calculated using a composite-fault model with a fractal subevent size distribution and stochastic, bandlimited, white-noise Green's functions. At frequencies below 1 Hz, theoretical elastic-wave-propagation synthetics introduce proper seismic-phase arrivals of body waves and surface waves. The 3D velocity structure more accurately reproduces record durations for the deep sedimentary basin structures found in the Los Angeles region. At frequencies above 1 Hz, scattering effects become important and wave propagation is more accurately represented by stochastic Green's functions. A fractal subevent size distribution for the composite fault model ensures an ??-2 spectral shape over the entire frequency band considered (0.1-20 Hz).