The effect of linear flow routing incorporating attenuation and network topology on peak flow scaling exponent is investigated for an instantaneously applied uniform runoff on simulated deterministic and random self-similar channel networks. The flow routing is modelled by a linear mass conservation equation for a discrete set of channel links connected in parallel and series, and having the same topology as the channel network. A quasi-analytical solution for the unit hydrograph is obtained in terms of recursion relations. The analysis of this solution shows that the peak flow has an asymptotically scaling dependence on the drainage area for deterministic Mandelbrot-Vicsek (MV) and Peano networks, as well as for a subclass of random self-similar channel networks. However, the scaling exponent is shown to be different from that predicted by the scaling properties of the maxima of the width functions. ?? 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.