Theory of polarized lidar sounding of multiply scattering media with highly anisotropic phase functions which describes angular patterns with representative azimuth structure of the backscattered signal observed through the polarizer and analyzer is proposed. Such patterns were visualized by other investigators in the plane perpendicular to the receiver optical axis in experiments performed on the base of mono-static polarized lidar systems. Previously obtained approximate equations of the vector theory along with generalized approximations earlier developed in the scalar theory form the basis for our theory. Solution expressed through multidimensional integrals which determine return polarization parameters is presented and explained. It accounts for formation of a signal as a process consisting of single scattering events into the backward region and propagation and small-angle scattering into near-forward directions before and after the back-scattering events. The developed solution gives the return angular pattern for any initial and received states of polarization and includes the multiple scattering. Half-analytical fast techniques that have been developed on the base of the obtained solution are used to simulate the near-backscattering patterns. Computed examples of the patterns for the case of scattering in seawaters are shown and discussed.© (2005) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.