Chemical oxygen demand (COD), an important indicative measure of the amount of oxidizable pollutants in wastewater, is often analyzed off-line due to the expensive sensor required for on-line analysis. However, its off-line analysis is time-consuming. An on-line COD estimation method was developed with photoelectrocatalytic (PEC) technology. Based on the on-line data of the oxidation–reduction potential (ORP), dissolved oxygen (DO) and pH of wastewater, four different artificial neural network methods were applied to develop working models for COD estimation. Six different batches of sequence batch reactor (SBR) effluent from a paper mill were treated with PEC oxidation for 90 minutes, and 546 data points were collected from the on-line measurements of ORP, DO and pH, and the off-line COD analysis. After having training and validation with 75% and 25% of data, and evaluation with four statistical criteria (R2, RMSE, MAE and MAPE), the estimation results indicated that the developed radial basis neural network (RBNN) model demonstrated the highest precision. Subsequently, the application of the RBNN model to a new batch of SBR effluent from the paper mill revealed that the RBNN model was acceptable for COD estimation during the PEC advanced treatment process of papermaking wastewater, which implied its possible application in the future.