In this study, the first and the second law of thermodynamics are used to analyze the performance of a single-stage water-lithium bromide absorption refrigeration system (ARS) when some working parameters are varied. A mathematical model based on the exergy method is introduced to evaluate the system performance, exergy loss of each component and total exergy loss of all the system components. Parameters connected with performance of the cycle-circulation ratio (CR), coefficient of performance (COP), Carnot coefficient of performance (COPc), exergetic efficiency (xi) and efficiency ratio (tau)-are calculated from the thermodynamic properties of the working fluids at various operating conditions. Using the developed model, the effect of main system temperatures on the performance parameters of the system, irreversibilities in the thermal process and non-dimensional exergy loss of each component are analyzed in detail. The results show that the performance of the ARS increases with increasing generator and evaporator temperatures, but decreases with increasing condenser and absorber temperatures. Exergy losses in the expansion valves, pump and heat exchangers, especially refrigerant heat exchanger, are small compared to other components. The highest exergy loss occurs in the generator regardless of operating conditions, which therefore makes the generator the most important component of the cycle. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.