Tidal stream turbines are used for converting kinetic energy of tidal currents into electricity. There are a number of uncertainties involved in the design of such devices and their components. To ensure safety of the turbines these uncertainties must be taken into account. The paper shows how this may be achieved for the design of rotor blades of horizontal-axis tidal stream turbines in the context of bending failure due to extreme loading. Initially, basic characteristics of such turbines in general and their blades in particular are briefly described. A probabilistic model of tidal current velocity fluctuations, which are the main source of load uncertainty, is then presented. This is followed by the description of reliability analysis of the blades, which takes into account uncertainties associated with tidal current speed, the blade resistance and the model used to calculate bending moments in the blades. Finally, the paper demonstrates how results of the reliability analysis can be applied to set values of the partial factors for the blade design.