Mapping of vegetation using remote sensing in mountainous areas is considerably hampered by topographic effects on the spectral response pattern. A variety of topographic normalization techniques have been proposed to correct these illumination effects due to topography. The purpose of this study was to compare six different topographic normalization methods (Cosine correction, Minnaert correction, C-correction, Sun-canopy-sensor correction, two-stage topographic normalization, and slope matching technique) for their effectiveness in enhancing vegetation classification in mountainous environments. Since most of the vegetation classes in the rugged terrain of the Lancang Watershed (China) did not feature a normal distribution, artificial neural networks (ANNs) were employed as a classifier. Comparing the ANN classifications, none of the topographic correction methods could significantly improve ETM+ image classification overall accuracy. Nevertheless, at the class level, the accuracy of pine forest could be increased by using topographically corrected images. On the contrary, oak forest and mixed forest accuracies were significantly decreased by using corrected images. The results also showed that none of the topographic normalization strategies was satisfactorily able to correct for the topographic effects in severely shadowed areas.