The software development life cycle generally includes analysis, design, implementation, test and release phases. The testing phase should be operated effectively in order to release bug-free software to end users. In the last two decades, academicians have taken an increasing interest in the software defect prediction problem, several machine learning techniques have been applied for more robust prediction. A different classification approach for this problem is proposed in this paper. A combination of traditional Artificial Neural Network (ANN) and the novel Artificial Bee Colony (ABC) algorithm are used in this study. Training the neural network is performed by ABC algorithm in order to find optimal weights. The False Positive Rate (FPR) and False Negative Rate (FNR) multiplied by parametric cost coefficients are the optimization task of the ABC algorithm. Software defect data in nature have a class imbalance because of the skewed distribution of defective and non-defective modules, so that conventional error functions of the neural network produce unbalanced FPR and FNR results. The proposed approach was applied to five publicly available datasets from the NASA Metrics Data Program repository. Accuracy, probability of detection, probability of false alarm, balance, Area Under Curve (AUC), and Normalized Expected Cost of Misclassification (NECM) are the main performance indicators of our classification approach. In order to prevent random results, the dataset was shuffled and the algorithm was executed 10 times with the use of n-fold cross-validation in each iteration. Our experimental results showed that a cost-sensitive neural network can be created successfully by using the ABC optimization algorithm for the purpose of software defect prediction. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.