Plate-like aerospace engineering structures are prone to mechanical/residual load during flight operation. The mechanical/residual prestresses can cause significant changes in guided-wave (GW) propagation for structural health monitoring (SHM) systems. The paper focuses on the characterization of the GW propagation using surfacebonded piezoelectric wafer actuators in metallic spacecraft plates under prestresses. First, a new in-plane analytical model with coupled piezo-elastodynamics is proposed to quantitatively capture the dynamic load transfer between a thin piezoelectric actuator bonded onto an isotropic plate that is subject to prestresses. Based on the developed model, effects of prestresses on the GW propagation generated by piezoelectric actuators are then analyzed and demonstrated. It can be found that the both time-of-flight and amplitude of wave responses can be affected by the presence of prestresses in plates. The results hopefully provide useful information for the real-time SHM.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.