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This paper describes how fitness inheritance can be used to estimate fitness for a proportion of newly sampled candidate solutions in the Bayesian optimization algorithm (BOA). The goal of estimating fitness for some candidate solutions is to reduce the number of fitness evaluations for problems where fitness evaluation is expensive. Bayesian networks used in BOA to model promising solutions and generate the new ones are extended to allow not only for modeling and sampling candidate solutions, but also for estimating their fitness. The results indicate that fitness inheritance is a promising concept in BOA, because population-sizing requirements for building appropriate models of promising solutions lead to good fitness estimates even if only a small proportion of candidate solutions is evaluated using the actual fitness function. This can lead to a reduction of the number of actual fitness evaluations by a factor of 30 or more.