An overview of the history and current practices of laser beam shaping is presented. When diffraction effects are not important, geometrical methods for laser beam shaping (ray tracing, conservation of energy within a bundle of rays, and the constant optical path length condition) can be used to determine system configurations, including aspheric elements and spherical-surface GRIN lenses, which are required to change the intensity profile into a more useful form. Geometrical optics-based design methods are presented for shaping both rotationally and rectangular symmetric laser beam profiles. Applications of these techniques include design of a two-plano-aspheric lens system for shaping a rotationally symmetric Gaussian beam, a two-mirror system with no central obscuration for shaping an elliptical Gaussian input beam, and a three-element GRIN system for shaping a rotationally symmetric Gaussian beam.© (2002) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.