The MPI Standard supports derived datatypes, which allow users to describe noncontiguous memory layout and communicate noncontiguous data with a single communication function. This feature enables an MPI implementation to optimize the transfer of noncontiguous data. In practice, however, few MPI implementations implement derived datatypes in a way that performs better than what the user can achieve by manually packing data into a contiguous buffer and then calling an MPI function. In this paper, we present a technique for improving the performance of derived datatypes by automatically using packing algorithms that are optimized for memory-access cost. The packing algorithms use memory-optimization techniques that the user cannot apply easily without advanced knowledge of the memory architecture. We present performance results for a matrix-transpose example that demonstrate that our implementation of derived datatypes significantly outperforms both manual packing by the user and the existing derived-datatype code in the MPI implementation (MPICH).