During 1982 we used the NOAA pulsed Doppler lidar as part of experimental programs to measure precisely lidar system performance and extend the instrument's demonstrated atmospheric monitoring capabilities. Key system characteristics such as pulse shape, chirp, alignment stability, telescope efficiency, and pulse-to-pulse variability were studied and their effect on measurement accuracy quantified. The field experiments also demonstrated the system's capabilities and limitations in monitoring winds, backscatter, turbulence, and moisture. By scanning the wind field at low scan elevation angles, we have observed such small-scale meteorological events as thunderstorm gust fronts, downbursts, and cold front passage. Scans at higher elevation angles enable us to monitor upper level winds, such as those in the vicinity of the polar-front jet. We also monitor backscatter coefficient (β) over both the short and long term. Daily observations show a noticeable decrease in tropospheric β during the winter months. The stratospheric aerosol layer resulting from the El Chichon volcano eruption was easily observed during fall 1982.