Background Protein-ligand binding is important for some proteins to perform their functions. Protein-ligand binding sites are the residues of proteins that physically bind to ligands. Despite of the recent advances in computational prediction for protein-ligand binding sites, the state-of-the-art methods search for similar, known structures of the query and predict the binding sites based on the solved structures. However, such structural information is not commonly available. Results In this paper, we propose a sequence-based approach to identify protein-ligand binding residues. We propose a combination technique to reduce the effects of different sliding residue windows in the process of encoding input feature vectors. Moreover, due to the highly imbalanced samples between the ligand-binding sites and non ligand-binding sites, we construct several balanced data sets, for each of which a random forest (RF)-based classifier is trained. The ensemble of these RF classifiers forms a sequence-based protein-ligand binding site predictor. Conclusions Experimental results on CASP9 and CASP8 data sets demonstrate that our method compares favorably with the state-of-the-art protein-ligand binding site prediction methods.