The paper considers the problem of detecting point-like targets in SAR imagery. We review the theory of constant false alarm rate (CFAR) detection, but note that on real SAR images CFAR performance is limited in two respects: (1) Inhomogeneities in the background cause a marked increasing in the false alarm rate. (2) As the target may only subtend a few pixels, we can only reduce the uncertainty introduced by speckle by increasing the size of the background region. We suggest that these problems can be overcome by using segmentation as a method for obtaining optimal background regions and verify this with experiment.© (1998) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.