An elastic column subjected to a follower load loses stability, as the load increases, through undamped oscillations around its equilibrium position (flutter). For a column with fixed volume and varying but similar cross section, the existence of a critical load is shown rigorously. The necessary conditions for making the critical load and the fundamental frequency of the column stationary with respect to variations in the column shape are derived. A numerical method for finding the optimal shape is given. © 1975 Plenum Publishing Corporation.