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This work presents an unit commitment model for hydroelectric power systems. The hydro unit commitment has great influence on the system's efficiency and it must be considered at the pre-dispatch level. The proposed approach determines a hydro unit startup/shutdown schedule and its corresponding power output schedule for the next day. The model formulated is a mixed optimization problem and a hybrid approach based on a genetic algorithms and a continuous non-linear optimization techniques. The methodology decomposes the problem in two sub-problems: the first one determines the startup/shutdown schedule using a genetic algorithms technique; and the second sub-problem calculates the power output of all committed hydro units selected by the genetic algorithms. This approach was applied to three hydroelectric systems.