In order to overcome the limitations of conventional Fourier transform and Gabor transform analyzing nonstationary signals, dilating Gabor transform is applied to analyze the optical fringes of 3-D shape measurement. The dilating Gabor transformation is introduced by using a changeable window of Gaussian function in a conventional Gabor transform. This phase analysis method provides more accurate results than Fourier transform and Gabor transform. Simulation and experimental results are presented that demonstrate the validity of the principle. © 2004 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.