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A family of upper bounds to error probabilities of coded systems was recently proposed by D. Divsalar (see IEEE Communication Theory Workshop, 1999; JPL TMO Prog. Rep. 42-139, 1999). These bounds are valid for transmission over the additive white Gaussian noise channel, and require only the knowledge of the weight spectrum of the code words. After illustrating these bounds, we extend them to fading channels. Contrary to the union bound, our bounds maintain their effectiveness below the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) at which the cutoff rate of the channel equals the rate of the code. Some applications are shown. First, we derive upper bounds to the minimum SNR necessary to achieve zero error probability as the code block length increases to infinity. Next, we use our bounds to predict the performance of turbo codes and low-density parity-check codes.