The department said new orders for durable goods -- those meant to last three or more years - advanced 3.3 percent in the month.
December durable goods orders were revised to a 0.4 percent decline from the previously reported 0.2 percent drop.
While the January gain was boosted by a sharp increase in transportation-related orders, the report showed broad strength in various categories of durable goods. Motor vehicle orders rose 10.7 percent, the biggest gain since April 2002. Analysts had been anticipating a smaller rebound from December's weakness.