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Task assignment problem is one of the important research topics in a multi-agent system. It is desired to assign each task to a suited agent with a minimum total cost. For the advantages of memory, multi-character, local search and the solution improvement mechanism in artificial bee colony (ABC) algorithm, a task assignment approach based on ABC in a multi-agent cooperative design system is proposed in this paper. Experimental results demonstrate that the optimal solutions obtained by the ABC algorithm are better than genetic algorithm and particle swarm optimization on solving some task assignment problems.