Abstract Based on the thin plate theory and the transfer matrix method, the vibration propagation in periodical orthotropic single-leaf rib-stiffened panels is studied. The localization factors of the ordered and disordered periodic systems are calculated. The numerical results show that the anisotropy of the plate affects the propagation of vibration in the pannels. With the relative bending rigidity increasing, or with the relative torsional rigidity increasing, the width of stopbands increases in low dimenionless frequencies. The vibration localization phenomenon occurs in the span-length disordered periodic structures and it is enhanced with the increasing disorder of span-length.