Molecular dynamics simulations are carried out to characterize the mechanical properties of  and  oriented silicon nanowires, with the thickness ranging from 1.05nm to 3.24 nm. The nanowires are taken to have ideal surfaces and (2×1) reconstructed surfaces, respectively. A series of simulations for square cross-section Si nanowires have been performed and Young’s modulus is calculated from energy–strain relationship. The results show that the elasticity of Si nanowires is strongly depended on size and surface reconstruction. Furthermore, the physical origin of above results is analyzed, consistent with the bond loss and saturation concept. The results obtained from the molecular dynamics simulations are in good agreement with the values of first-principles. The molecular dynamics simulations combine the accuracy and efficiency.