Lateral resolution is a particularly challenging concept to quantify in triangulation-based three-dimensional (3-D) imaging systems. We present these challenges, then describe an artifact-based methodology for evaluating the lateral resolution of a triangulation-based 3-D imaging system that uses laser spots or laser lines. In particular, the response of a 3-D imaging system to a spatial discontinuity (step edge) has traditionally been modeled as a first-order linear system. We model the response of a triangulation-based laser imaging system to a spatial step edge from first principles and demonstrate that the response should be modeled as a non linear system. This model is then used as a basis for evaluating the lateral (structural) resolution of a triangulation-based laser imaging system.