With shrinking dimensions and increasing chip areas, a rapid and non-destructive full wafer characterization after every patterning cycle is an inevitable necessity. In former publications it was shown that Optical Scatterometry (OS) has the potential to push the attainable feature limits of optical techniques from 0.8 . . . 0.5 microns for imaging methods down to 0.1 micron and below. Thus the demands of future metrology can be met. Basically being a nonimaging method, OS combines light scatter (or diffraction) measurements with modern data analysis schemes to solve the inverse scatter issue. For very fine patterns with lambda-to-pitch ratios grater than one, the specular reflected light versus the incidence angle is recorded. Usually, the data analysis comprises two steps -- a training cycle connected the a rigorous forward modeling and the prediction itself. Until now, two data analysis schemes are usually applied -- the multivariate regression based Partial Least Squares method (PLS) and a look-up-table technique which is also referred to as Minimum Mean Square Error approach (MMSE). Both methods are afflicted with serious drawbacks. On the one hand, the prediction accuracy of multivariate regression schemes degrades with larger parameter ranges due to the linearization properties of the method. On the other hand, look-up-table methods are rather time consuming during prediction thus prolonging the processing time and reducing the throughput. An alternate method is an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) based regression which combines the advantages of multivariate regression and MMSE. Due to the versatility of a neural network, not only can its structure be adapted more properly to the scatter problem, but also the nonlinearity of the neuronal transfer functions mimic the nonlinear behavior of optical diffraction processes more adequately. In spite of these pleasant properties, the prediction speed of ANN regression is comparable with that of the PLS-method. In this paper, the viability and performance of ANN-regression will be demonstrated with the example of sub-quarter-micron resist metrology. To this end, 0.25 micrometer line/space patterns have been printed in positive photoresist by means of DUV projection lithography. In order to evaluate the total metrology chain from light scatter measurement through data analysis, a thorough modeling has been performed. Assuming a trapezoidal shape of the developed resist profile, a training data set was generated by means of the Rigorous Coupled Wave Approach (RCWA). After training the model, a second data set was computed and deteriorated by Gaussian noise to imitate real measuring conditions. Then, these data have been fed into the models established before resulting in a Standard Error of Prediction (SEP) which corresponds to the measuring accuracy. Even with putting only little effort in the design of a back-propagation network, the ANN is clearly superior to the PLS-method. Depending on whether a network with one or two hidden layers was used, accuracy gains between 2 and 5 can be achieved compared with PLS regression. Furthermore, the ANN is less noise sensitive, for there is only a doubling of the SEP at 5% noise for ANN whereas for PLS the accuracy degrades rapidly with increasing noise. The accuracy gain also depends on the light polarization and on the measured parameters. Finally, these results have been proven experimentally, where the OS-results are in good accordance with the profiles obtained from cross- sectioning micrographs.