The feasibility of developing a multispectral imaging method using important wavelengths from hyperspectral images selected by genetic algorithm (GA), successive projection algorithm (SPA) and regression coefficient (RC) methods for modeling and predicting protein content in peanut kernel was investigated for the first time. Partial least squares regression (PLSR) calibration model was established between the spectral data from the selected optimal wavelengths and the reference measured protein content ranged from 23.46% to 28.43%. The RC-PLSR model established using eight key wavelengths (1153, 1567, 1972, 2143, 2288, 2339, 2389 and 2446 nm) showed the best predictive results with the coefficient of determination of prediction (R<sup>2</sup><inf>P</inf>) of 0.901, and root mean square error of prediction (RMSEP) of 0.108 and residual predictive deviation (RPD) of 2.32. Based on the obtained best model and image processing algorithms, the distribution maps of protein content were generated. The overall results of this study indicated that developing a rapid and online multispectral imaging system using the feature wavelengths and PLSR analysis is potential and feasible for determination of the protein content in peanut kernels.<br/> ©2017 Elsevier B.V.