With the development of modern military, infrared imaging technology is widely used in this field. However, limited by the mechanism of infrared imaging and the detector, infrared images have the disadvantages of low contrast and blurry edge by comparison with the visible image. These shortcomings lead infrared image unsuitable to be observed by both human and computer. Thus image enhancement is required. Traditional image enhancement methods on the application of infrared image, without taking into account the human visual properties, is not convenient for the human observation. This article purposes a new method that combines the layering idea with the human visual properties to enhance the infrared image. The proposed method relies on bilateral filtering to separate a base component, which contains the large amplitude signal and must be compressed, from a detail component, which must be expanded because it contains the small signal variations related to fine texture. The base component is mapped into the proper range which is 8-bit using the human visual properties, and the detail component is applied the method of adaptive gain control. Finally, the two parts are recombined and quantized to 8-bit domain. Experimental results show that this algorithm exceeds most current image enhancement methods in solving the problems of low contrast and blurry detail.