Evaluation of the parameters affecting the compostability of dewatered raw sludge from a wastewater treatment plant has been carried out by means of a full factorial composite experimental design. The factors and their correspondent levels considered in the experimental design were: bulking agent:sludge ratio (from 1:1 to 4:1 by volume), bulking agent particle size (from 0-5 mm to 10-20 mm) and composting volume (in the range of typical laboratory-scale, from 1.5 to 25 L). Experimental design has permitted obtaining a polynomial second-order function that quantitatively describes the influence of the considered factors on the compostability of this waste in laboratory reactors. The function has been numerically optimized to find the optimal values for composting raw sludge resulting in a values of: 0-5 mm for bulking agent size, 1:1 for ratio bulking agent:sludge and a composting volume around 10 L. The use of this technique can be generalized and applied to the composting of other organic wastes and will permit comparison of composting performance of different wastes. © 2003 Taylor and Francis.