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In this paper, the BP neural network improved by the genetic algorithm (GA) is applied to the problem of human face detection. GA is used to optimize the initial weights of the BP neural network to make full use of its global optimization and local accurate searching of the BP algorithm. Matlab Software and its neural network toolbox are used to simulate and compute. The experiment results show that the GA-BP neural network has a good performance for face detection. Furthermore, compared with the conventional BP algorithm, the GA-BP learning algorithm has more rapid convergence and better assessment accuracy of detecting quality.