In this contribution, we show that micro-optical elements are well suited to exploit the potential of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) based light sources. They may not only increase the OLED efficiency significantly but also enable for tailoring the common Lambertian-like emission pattern of OLEDs in order to reach desired light distributions corresponding to application demands. An OLED beam-shaping scheme is demonstrated utilizing thin micro-optical arrays where each channel consists of a half-ball lens and an adapted reflective/absorptive aperture. The combination of (a) light recycling , (b) distorted and arrayed imaging of the apertures , and (c) potential substrate-mode-outcoupling allows for efficient tailoring the light emission pattern of large area OLEDs. By means of such a beam-shaping concept, several different illumination patterns (e.g. circular, triangular beams or even more complex light distributions like letters) with various divergence angles below ±40° are demonstrated. Furthermore, a reduction of the divergence angle down to about ±10° accompanied by a stray light level minimization to <1% at larger angles is presented. In either case, intensity enhancements by a factor of >2 can be realized while the thickness of the optics remains below 2 mm.© (2010) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.