Remote sensing is becoming an increasingly important tool for the effective direction of oil spill countermeasures. Cleanup personnel have recognized that remote sensing can increase spill cleanup efficiency. The general public expects that the government and/or the spiller know the location and the extent of the contamination. The Emergencies Science Division (ESD) of Environment Canada, is responsible for remote sensing during oil spill emergencies along Canada's three coastlines, extensive inland waterways, as well as over the entire land mass. In addition to providing operational remote sensing, ESD conducts research into the development of airborne oil spill remote sensors, including the Scanning Laser Environmental Airborne Fluorosensor (SLEAF) and the Laser Ultrasonic Remote SEnsing of Oil Thickness (LURSOT) sensor. It has long been recognized that there is not one sensor or 'magic bullet' which is capable of detecting oil and related petroleum products in all environments and spill scenarios. There are sensors which possess a wide filed-of-view and can therefore be used to map the overall extent of the spill. These sensors, however lack the specificity required to positively identify oil and related products. This is even more of a problem along complicated beach and shoreline environments where several substrates are present. The specific laser- based sensors under development by Environment Canada are designed to respond to special roles in oil spill response. In particular, the SLEAF is being developed to unambiguously detect and map oil and related petroleum products in complicated marine and shoreline environments where other non-specific sensors experience difficulty. The role of the SLEAF would be to confirm or reject suspected oil contamination sites that have been targeted by the non- specific sensors. This confirmation will release response crews from the time consuming task of physically inspecting each site, and direct crews to sites that require remediation. The LURSOT sensor will provide an absolute measurement of oil thickness form an airborne platform. There are presently no sensors available, either airborne or in the laboratory which can provide an absolute measurement of oil thickness. This information is necessary for the effective direction of spill countermeasures such as dispersant application and in-situ burning. This paper will describe the development of laser-based airborne oil spill remote sensing instrumentation at Environment Canada and identify the anticipated benefits of the use of this technology to the oil spill response community.