In this study, a hybrid model of least square support vector machine-gamma test (LSSVM-GT) is proposed for estimating daily ETo under arid conditions of Zahedan station, Iran. Gamma test was used for selecting the best input vectors for models. The estimated ETo by LSSVM-GT model with different kernels of RBF, linear and polynomial, were compared with other hybrid approaches including ANN-GT, ANFIS-GT, and empirical equations. The gamma test revealed that climate variables of minimum and maximum air temperature and wind speed are the most important parameters. The LSSVM model performed better than the ANFIS and ANN models when similar meteorological input variables are used. Also, the performance of the three models of LSSVM, ANFIS, and ANN were better than the empirical equations such as Blaney–Criddle and Hargreaves–Samani. The RMSE, MAE, and R2 for the best input vector by LSSVM were 0.1 mm day−1, 0.13 mm day−1, and 0.99, respectively. The threshold of relative absolute error of 95% predicted values by LSSVM, ANN, and ANFIS models were about 8.4%, 9.4%, and 24%, respectively. Based on the comparison of the overall performances, the developed LSSVM-GT approach is greatly capable of providing favorable predictions with high precision in arid regions of Iran.