The TNO Human Factors Search_2 image dataset consists of: a set of 44 high-resolution digital color images of different complex natural scenes, the ground truth corresponding to each of these scenes, and the results of psychophysical experiments on each of these images. The images in the Search_2 dataset are a subset of a larger set that has been used in a visual search and detection experiment. Each scene (image) contains a single military vehicle that serves as a search target. The image dataset, an Excel file with the ground truth and observer data, and an extensive report describing the dataset are available on CD-ROM (requests by email to the first author). The dataset can be used to develop and validate digital metrics that compute the visual distinctness (contrast, conspicuity, or saliency) of targets in complex scenes, and models of human visual search and detection. The dataset has already been used in more than ten different studies in the literature, ranging from studies evaluating target detectability metrics to eye movement studies and attempts to model the human visual system. In addition to this work, eight other articles in this special section address the Search_2 dataset. © 2001 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.