An improved methodology for processing scanning lidar data is considered. We demonstrate a new principle of determining vertical profiles of the particulate extinction coefficient and the lidar ratio with the Kano-Hamilton multiangle solution. This technique, which is also applicable to combined elastic/inelastic lidar measurements, computes the extinction coefficient from the backscatter term rather than from optical depth, thus avoiding numerical differentiation. The inversion is based on determining the stepwise column-integrated lidar ratios that provide the best matching of the initial profile of the optical depth to that obtained after the inversion. We explore two approaches concerning the division of the column-integrated lidar ratio into different ranges: in the first case, divisions between ranges are uniformly distributed; in the second case, divisions are located using estimated uncertainty boundaries in the inverted optical depth. The inversion method was used to process the experimental data obtained in the vicinity of large wildfires with the Fire Sciences Laboratory lidar. Examples of the simulated and experimental data are presented, which illustrate the specifics and prospects of this data-processing methodology.© (2007) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.