This paper considers the detrimental effect of promotions on the supply chain (SC), one of the main Causes of the bullwhip effect. A genetic algorithm (GA) is proposed to reduce these negative effects. In order to validate the GA, it is used to determine the optimal ordering policy in an online version of the MIT beer distribution game. Subsequently, the GA is applied in a number of experiments involving deterministic and random demand and lead times combined with sales promotions. It is shown how GAs can be used to dampen the impact of the bullwhip effect and can be used to assist supply managers in predicting reorder quantities along the supply chain. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.