We present a genetic algorithm (GA) based heuristic approach for job scheduling in virtual manufacturing cells (VMCs). In a VMC, machines are dedicated to a part as in a regular cell, but machines are not physically relocated in a contiguous area. Cell configurations are therefore temporary, and assignments are made to optimize the scheduling objective under changing demand conditions. We consider the case where there are multiple jobs with different processing routes. There are multiple machine types with several identical machines in each type and are located in different locations in the shop floor. Scheduling objective is weighted makespan and total traveling distance minimization. The scheduling decisions are the (i) assignment of jobs to the machines, and (ii) the job start time at each machine. To evaluate the effectiveness of the GA heuristic we compare it with a mixed integer programming (MIP) solution. This is done on a wide range of benchmark problem. Computational results show that GA is promising in finding good solutions in very shorter times and can be substituted in the place of MIP model. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.