AbstractAn intercomparison of aerosol backscatter lidar algorithms was performed in 2001 within the framework of the European Aerosol Research Lidar Network to Establish an Aerosol Climatology (EARLINET). The objective of this research was to test the correctness of the algorithms and the influence of the lidar ratio used by the various lidar teams involved in the EARLINET for calculation of backscatter-coefficient profiles from the lidar signals. The exercise consisted of processing synthetic lidar signals of various degrees of difficulty. One of these profiles contained height-dependent lidar ratios to test the vertical influence of those profiles on the various retrieval algorithms. Furthermore, a realistic incomplete overlap of laser beam and receiver field of view was introduced to remind the teams to take great care in the nearest range to the lidar. The intercomparison was performed in three stages with increasing knowledge on the input parameters. First, only the lidar signals were distributed; this is the most realistic stage. Afterward the lidar ratio profiles and the reference values at calibration height were provided. The unknown height-dependent lidar ratio had the largest influence on the retrieval, whereas the unknown reference value was of minor importance. These results show the necessity of making additional independent measurements, which can provide us with a suitable approximation of the lidar ratio. The final stage proves in general, that the data evaluation schemes of the different groups of lidar systems work well.