The present paper investigates the effect of two variables, namely direction of parameterization and cutter diameter on process geometry, cutting forces, and surface error in peripheral milling of curved geometries. In machining of curved geometries where the curvature varies continuously along tool path, the process geometry variables, namely feed per tooth, engagement angle, and maximum undeformed chip thickness too vary along tool path. These variations will be different when a given geometry is machined from different parametric directions and with different cutter diameters. This difference in process geometry variations result in changed cutting forces and surface error along machined path. This aspect has been studied for variable curvature geometries by machining from both parametric directions and using cutters of different diameter. The computer simulation studies carried out show considerable amount of shift in the location of peak cutting forces with the change in cutting direction and cutter diameter, particularly in concave regions of workpiece geometry. A new parameter γ that relates the instantaneous curvature of workpiece with cutter radius is defined. The larger value of γ is an indicator of greater shift in the location of peak forces from the point of maximum curvature on the workpiece. The simulation results are validated by carrying out machining experiments with curved workpiece geometry and are found to be in good agreement. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.