To understand their relation to pedogenic development, soil hydraulic properties in the Mojave Desert were investi- gated for three deposit types: (i) recently deposited sediments in an active wash, (ii) a soil of early Holocene age, and (iii) a highly developed soil of late Pleistocene age. Eff ective parameter values were estimated for a simplifi ed model based on Richards' equation using a fl ow simulator (VS2D), an inverse algorithm (UCODE-2005), and matric pressure and water content data from three ponded infi ltration experiments. The inverse problem framework was designed to account for the eff ects of subsurface lateral spreading of infi ltrated water. Although none of the inverse problems converged on a unique, best-fi t parameter set, a minimum standard error of regression was reached for each deposit type. Parameter sets from the numerous inversions that reached the minimum error were used to develop probability distribu tions for each parameter and deposit type. Electrical resistance imaging obtained for two of the three infi ltration experiments was used to independently test fl ow model performance. Simulations for the active wash and Holocene soil successfully depicted the lateral and vertical fl uxes. Simulations of the more pedogenically developed Pleistocene soil did not adequately replicate the observed fl ow processes, which would require a more complex conceptual model to include smaller scale heterogeneities. The inverse-modeling results, however, indicate that with increasing age, the steep slope of the soil water retention curve shitis toward more negative matric pressures. Assigning eff ective soil hydraulic properties based on soil age provides a promising framework for future development of regional-scale models of soil moisture dynamics in arid environments for land-management applications. ?? Soil Science Society of America.