We propose a new approach for building detection using high-resolution satellite imagery based on an adaptive fuzzy-genetic algorithm. This novel approach improves object detection accuracy by reducing the premature convergence problem encountered when using genetic algorithms. We integrate the fundamental image processing operators with genetic algorithm concepts such as population, chromosome, gene, crossover and mutation. To initiate the approach, training samples are selected that represent the specified two feature classes, in this case "building" and "non-building". The image processing operations are carried out on a chromosome-by-chromosome basis to reveal the attribute planes. These planes are then reduced to one hyperplane that is optimal for discriminating between the specified feature classes. For each chromosome, the fitness values are calculated through the analysis of detection and mis-detection rates. This analysis is followed by genetic algorithm operations such as selection, crossover and mutation. At the end of each generation cycle, the adaptive-fuzzy module determines the new (adjusted) probabilities of crossover and mutation. This evolutionary process repeats until a specified number of generations has been reached. To enhance the detected building patches, morphological image processing operations are applied. The approach was tested on ten different test scenes of the Batikent district of the city of Ankara, Turkey using 1 m resolution pan-sharpened IKONOS imagery. The kappa statistics computed for the proposed adaptive fuzzy-genetic algorithm approach were between 0.55 and 0.88. The extraction performance of the algorithm was better for urban and suburban buildings than for buildings in rural test scenes. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.