Validation studies of physical anthropology methods in the different population groups are extremely important, especially in cases in which the population variations may cause problems in the identification of a native individual by the application of norms developed for different communities. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to estimate the gender of skeletons by application of the method of Oliveira, et al. (1995), previously used in a population sample from Northeast Brazil. MATERIAL AND METHODS: The accuracy of this method was assessed for a population from Southeast Brazil and validated by statistical tests. The method used two mandibular measurements, namely the bigonial distance and the mandibular ramus height. The sample was composed of 66 skulls and the method was applied by two examiners. The results were statistically analyzed by the paired t test, logistic discriminant analysis and logistic regression. RESULTS: The results demonstrated that the application of the method of Oliveira, et al. (1995) in this population achieved very different outcomes between genders, with 100% for females and only 11% for males, which may be explained by ethnic differences. However, statistical adjustment of measurement data for the population analyzed allowed accuracy of 76.47% for males and 78.13% for females, with the creation of a new discriminant formula. CONCLUSION: It was concluded that methods involving physical anthropology present high rate of accuracy for human identification, easy application, low cost and simplicity; however, the methodologies must be validated for the different populations due to differences in ethnic patterns, which are directly related to the phenotypic aspects. In this specific case, the method of Oliveira, et al. (1995) presented good accuracy and may be used for gender estimation in Brazil in two geographic regions, namely Northeast and Southeast; however, for other regions of the country (North, Central West and South), previous methodological adjustment is recommended as demonstrated in this study.