Over the course of the last few years, several readout techniques for fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors have been proposed. However, all of them suffer from specific restrictions concerning response speed, accuracy, sensor multiplexibility and cost. In the past, it was often assumed that diffraction grating spectrometers were suitable only for FBG applications with modest resolution. The achievable pixel resolution is nowadays in the range of several tens of pm. For FBG sensors with typical temperature coefficients of 5 pm/K and strain coefficients of 0.7 pm/με this resolution is not sufficient for the majority of applications. We present a discussion on different methods for the subpixel registration of FBG spectra and we introduce a novel detection algorithm: the linear phase operator technique (LPO). Even under extreme noisy conditions LPO ensures a significant resolution enhancement by a factor of three compared to conventional algorithms and is shown to be very efficient in its implementation. The efficiencies of several conventional algorithms and LPO is compared by simulations and by means of a test bench. With slight efforts LPO is adaptable to further applications like spectrometer based Fabry-Perot sensors and other sensors with CCD detectors.© (2004) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.