This paper presents a Bayesian inference-based dynamic linear model (DLM) to predict online short-term travel time on a freeway stretch. The proposed method considers the predicted freeway travel time as the sum of the median of historical travel times, time-varying random variations in travel time, and a model evolution error, where the median is employed to recognize the primary travel time pattern while the variation captures unexpected supply (i.e. capacity) reduction and demand fluctuations. Bayesian forecasting is a learning process that revises sequentially the state of a priori knowledge of travel time based on newly available information. The prediction result is a posterior travel time distribution that can be employed to generate a single-value (typically but not necessarily the mean) travel time as well as a confidence interval representing the uncertainty of travel time prediction. To better track travel time fluctuations during non-recurrent congestion due to unforeseen events (e.g., incidents, accidents, or bad weather), the DLM is integrated into an adaptive control framework that can automatically learn and adjust the system evolution noise level. The experiment results based on the real loop detector data of an I-66 segment in Northern Virginia suggest that the proposed method is able to provide accurate and reliable travel time prediction under both recurrent and non-recurrent traffic conditions. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.