The application of the Mori-Tanaka method for the calculation of the elastic properties of textile composite materials is studied. First, it is shown how the implementation of the Mori-Tanaka method for materials with a complex orientation distribution can be greatly simplified by the use of orientation tensors. For inclusions with elliptical cross-section, a new concept of "equivalent orientations" is defined to simplify the implementation of elastic models. Second, the Mori-Tanaka method is used to predict the inplane elastic properties of various types of woven, braided and knitted fabric composites. Especially for knitted fabric composites, the Mori-Tanaka method clearly predicts the elastic properties better then the classical Voigt method. Besides, Mori-Tanaka offers some interesting perspectives for damage and strength modelling of textile composite materials. (C) 1998 Acta Metallurgica Inc.