Abstract We present a framework for machine translation evaluation using neural networks in a pairwise setting, where the goal is to select the better translation from a pair of hypotheses, given the reference translation. In this framework, lexical, syntactic and semantic information from the reference and the two hypotheses is embedded into compact distributed vector representations, and fed into a multi-layer neural network that models nonlinear interactions between each of the hypotheses and the reference, as well as between the two hypotheses. We experiment with the benchmark datasets from the \WMT\ Metrics shared task, on which we obtain the best results published so far, with the basic network configuration. We also perform a series of experiments to analyze and understand the contribution of the different components of the network. We evaluate variants and extensions, including fine-tuning of the semantic embeddings, and sentence-based representations modeled with convolutional and recurrent neural networks. In summary, the proposed framework is flexible and generalizable, allows for efficient learning and scoring, and provides an \MT\ evaluation metric that correlates with human judgments, and is on par with the state of the art.