A big challenge in constructing global hydrological models is the inclusion of anthropogenic impacts on the water cycle, such as caused by dams. Dam operators make decisions based on experience and often uncertain information. In this study information generally available to dam operators, like inflow into the reservoir and storage levels, was used to derive fuzzy rules describing the way a reservoir is operated. Using an artificial neural network capable of mimicking fuzzy logic, called the ANFIS adaptive-network-based fuzzy inference system, fuzzy rules linking inflow and storage with reservoir release were determined for 11 reservoirs in central Asia, the US and Vietnam. By varying the input variables of the neural network, different configurations of fuzzy rules were created and tested. It was found that the release from relatively large reservoirs was significantly dependent on information concerning recent storage levels, while release from smaller reservoirs was more dependent on reservoir inflows. Subsequently, the derived rules were used to simulate reservoir release with an average Nash-Sutcliffe coefficient of 0.81.