In this article, we implement relatively new analytical techniques, the variational iteration method and the Adomian decomposition method, for solving linear differential equations of fractional order. The two methods in applied mathematics can be used as alternative methods for obtaining analytic and approximate solutions for different types of fractional differential equations. In these schemes, the solution takes the form of a convergent series with easily computable components. This paper will present a numerical comparison between the two methods and a conventional method such as the fractional difference method for solving linear differential equations of fractional order. The numerical results demonstrates that the new methods are quite accurate and readily implemented. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.