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IEEE 802.11a/g devices promise to accommodate the increasing consumer demands for high data rate wireless communications. A novel optimal decoding method for receiver antenna diversity combining for a COFDM system is discussed in this paper to provide robust wireless connections for applications such as wireless multimedia communications. The proposed optimal diversity combining integrates the channel equalization, demodulation (bit metrics calculation) and diversity combining in the decoder, which is the maximum likelihood decoding method for the diversity combining for the COFDM system. The proposed method can have about 4-6 dB gain over a single antenna receiver and 2-4 dB gain over a traditional symbol level diversity combining receiver without increasing the implementation complexity.