A new 2-D quality-guided phase-unwrapping algorithm, based on the placement of the branch cuts, is presented. Its framework consists of branch cut placing guided by an original quality map and reliability ordering performed on a final quality map. To improve the noise immunity of the new algorithm, a new quality map, which is used as the original quality map to guide the placement of the branch cuts, is proposed. After a complete description of the algorithm and the quality map, several wrapped images are used to examine the effectiveness of the algorithm. Computer simulation and experimental results make it clear that the proposed algorithm works effectively even when a wrapped phase map contains error sources, such as phase discontinuities, noise, and undersampling. © 2005 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.