This paper reports on work to determine the feasibility of fabricating a liquid crystal display (LCD) backlight using an array of LEDs. The purpose of this backlight is to overcome the efficiency loss of the absorptive color filters in the LCD. Two types of arrays were fabricated and tested. An array of white LEDs was designed for use with an interference color separation filter. An array of red, green, and blue LEDs was designed for use with a cylindrical lenslet array which focuses the three colors onto the appropriate color apertures of the LCD. Although promising results were achieved with standard off-the-shelf LEDs, significant improvements in surface radiance uniformity and efficiency could be obtained with special beam-shaping lenses on the LEDs.© (2000) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.