The often disappointing performance of optimizing neural networks can be partly attributed to the rather ad hoc manner in which problems are mapped onto them for solution. In this paper a rigorous mapping is described for quadratic 0-1 programming problems with linear equality and inequality constraints, this being the most general class of problem such networks can solve. The problem's constraints define a polyhedron P containing all the valid solution points, and the mapping guarantees strict confinement of the network's state vector to P . However, forcing convergence to a 0-1 point within P is shown to be generally intractable, rendering the Hopfield and similar models inapplicable to the vast majority of problems. A modification of the tabu learning technique is presented as a more coherent approach to general problem solving with neural networks. When tested on a collection of knapsack problems, the modified dynamics produced some very encouraging results.