Fiber optic grating sensors written into polarization preserving optical fiber may be used to monitor multidimensional strain fields in composite materials. This paper provides an overview of the characterization and test of multiaxis fiber grating sensors formed by writing 1300 and 1550 nm fiber gratings into polarization preserving optical fiber. A discussion of the usage of these multiaxis fiber grating sensors to measure two and three dimensional strain fields will be made. A brief review of practical applications of the technology to measure shear strain, transverse strain gradients as well as axial and traverse strain will be made with emphasis on aerospace and civil structure applications.© (2000) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.