This work proposes and analyses a sparse reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexer consisting of eight tuneable ring resonator-based optical filters, and two eight channel arrayed waveguide routers. The design features a 0.25 add-drop factor, 32 channels in a four-skip-one architecture at 0.8 nm channel spacing, covers the conventional band, and takes advantage of the main limitation of single ring resonator-based optical filters, namely the rather limited free spectral range. Coupled mode theory and its transfer matrix formalism have been used to design the tuneable add-drop filters, while classical theory of signal spectral analysis have been used for determining its performance characteristics. The computed results for a sparse tuneable optical add-drop multiplexer equipped with single-ring add-drop filters were add/drop insertion loss 0.77 dB , through adjacent insertion loss 2.7dB , worst add/drop adjacent cross talk -43dB , add/drop bandwidth at full width half maximum 0.221 nm , and group delays between 0.05 ps and 2 ps for add/drop and through optical channels. The proposed tuneable OADM exhibits a very good magnitude response and properly adds, drops, removes and/or lets through the selected channel without disturbing the other channels.© (2003) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.