Optimizing the design of automobile outer panels for weight reductions requires a consideration of stiffness and dent resistance. This paper presents a finite element analysis method for predicting the dent resistance of automobile body panels. The method is based on elastoplasticity analysis and nonlinear contact analysis. The analysis shows that dent resistance is greatly influenced not only by the stress-strain curve of the formed panel but also by the residual stress in the panel. An increase in yield stress improves dent resistance. The computed results obtained with this method compare favorably with experimental data, thereby validating this approach.