This paper describes the development and use of a thermofluidynamic model for parabolic trough collectors, specifically suited for carrying out systematic calculations on different design options. The model is based on detailed energy balances, and it has been applied to evaluate collector thermal performances with different working fluids: oil, molten salt, or water/steam. For each heat transfer fluid technology, four parameters have been analyzed: collector length, absorber tube diameter, working temperature, and pressure. The influence of these factors has been studied from the point of view of heat loss, pressure drop, energy, and exergy efficiencies. Exergy is considered the suitable magnitude to guide any optimization process in this field, because it accounts for all relevant energy gains and losses, characterized by their corresponding temperature and pressure. Preliminary conclusions point out that direct steam generation is more efficient than oil and molten salt systems.