The soil and water assessment tool (SWAT) is a physically based model that is used extensively to simulate hydrologic processes in a wide range of climates around the world. SWAT uses spatial hydrometeorological data to simulate runoff through the computation of a retention curve number. The objective of the present study was to compare the performance of two approaches used for the calculation of curve numbers in SWAT, that is, the Revised Soil Moisture Index (SMI), which is based on previous meteorological conditions, and the Soil Moisture Condition II (SMCII), which is based on soil features for the prediction of flow. The results showed that the sensitive parameters for the SMI method are land-use and land-cover features. However, for the SMCII method, the soil and the channel are the sensitive parameters. The performances of the SMI and SMCII methods were analyzed using various indices. We concluded that the fair performance of the SMI method in an arid region may be due to the inherent characteristics of the method since it relies mostly on previous meteorological conditions and does not account for the soil features of the catchment.