Characteristics of optical beam incidences that have arbitrary field profiles are examined when they propagate in the turbulent atmosphere. Arbitrary source field profile is introduced by decomposing the source into incremental areas and the received field in the presence of turbulence is expressed as the summation of the fields originating from each incremental area. Intensity moments such as average intensity and the scintillation index in turbulence are formulated under such excitation. Our results correctly reduce to the well established Gaussian beam wave solutions when the arbitrary source beam is taken as the Gaussian field profile. Naturally, all the beam structures such as the higher-order single-mode, multimode, off-axis Hermite-Gaussian, Hermite-sinusoidal-Gaussian, higher-order annular, flat-topped- Gaussian beams form the special cases of our derivation. Numerical results that cover the scintillations in turbulence for various types of arbitrary beam profiles are presented. Our results for the arbitrary source field profiles can be applied in atmospheric optics telecommunication links where combination of several known beams are employed as incidence in an effort to reduce the degrading effects of turbulence. Also in the problems of reflection from rough surfaces, propagation of spatially partially coherent optical beams or double passage imaging in turbulence, our formulation can be utilized.© (2006) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.