The polarimetric characterization of a beam reflected onto a dielectric surface provides information about the orientation of this surface. From this principle, we present an original method for passive 3-D reconstruction of unknown objects. A specific vision system has been designed that enables polarization image acquisition and processing. The 3-D reconstruction is achieved by an integration process whose initialization data are provided in an original way by a cooperative edge-based stereo vision algorithm. Results obtained from real scenes are presented, which show off the reliability of our method applied to objects without any available a priori information as well as for flat or curved surfaces. © 2005 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.