This paper presents the first systematic comparison, using historical and paleoflood data, of moments-based flood frequency methods. Peak flow estimates were compiled from streamflow-gaging stations with historical and/or paleoflood data at 36 sites located in the United States, Argentina, United Kingdom and China, covering a diverse range of hydrologic conditions. The Expected Moments Algorithm (EMA) and the Bulletin 17B historical weighting procedure (B17H) were compared in terms of goodness of fit using 25 of the data sets. Results from this comparison indicate that EMA is a viable alternative to current B17H procedures from an operational perspective, and performed equal to or better than B17H for the data analyzed. We demonstrate satisfactory EMA performance for the remaining 11 sites with multiple thresholds and binomial censoring, which B17H cannot accommodate. It is shown that the EMA estimator readily incorporates these types of information and the LP-III distribution provided an adequate fit to the data in most cases. The results shown here are consistent with Monte Carlo simulation studies, and demonstrate that EMA is preferred overall to B17H. The Bulletin 17B document could be revised to include an option for EMA as an alternative to the existing historical weighting approach. These results are of practical relevance to hydrologists and water resources managers for applications in floodplain management, design of hydraulic structures, and risk analysis for dams. ?? 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.