Optoacoustic pressure waves were generated by irradiating blood vessels embedded into calf cartilage with 5 ns long pulses from an optical parametric oscillator (OPO). A two dimensional pressure transducer consisting of a glass prism and a liquid layer was used to measure the laser-induced pressure waves. The pressure dependent changes of reflection at the prism-liquid interface were recorded with a time-gated CCD-camera. On the basis of the 2D pressure measurements the spatial distribution of the blood vessels was reconstructed using two different algorithms, one based on radial back projection and one using Fourier transformation. High lateral (100 micrometers ) and depth resolution (20 micrometers ) was achieved.© (2001) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.