A damage localization method for plate-like structure is developed based on Lamb waves and matching pursuits method with chirplet dictionary. The matching pursuits method is employed to decompose Lamb wave signals into a linear expansion of several chirplet atoms with a fast realization algorithm. The relationship between Lamb wave's dispersion and chirplet's chirp rate is established, which can be used to identify the modes of Lamb waves. Then a method for damage localization is developed based on the difference between the baseline signals and the damaged signals. The effectiveness and accuracy of the proposed method for identifying the modes and locating defects are demonstrated by the simulation and experimental results of isotropic plate structure and honeycomb sandwich composite structure.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.