We describe an environment-friendly fabrication process for microretarders with a high contrast ratio and well-defined stripe boundaries. It is shown that by accurately controlling the power, spot size, and scanning speed of a laser beam, the retardation property of a polymeric film can be tailored within a localized area without altering that of the untreated areas. The measurements and analyses of the contrast ratios on the microretarders are presented. A microretarder can be used in many applications, especially in stereoscopic displays. © 2001 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.