A pixel-based color-mapping algorithm is presented that produces a fused false color rendering of two gray-level images representing different sensor modalities. The resulting images have a higher information content than each of the original images and retain sensorspecific image information. The unique component of each image modality is enhanced in the resulting fused color image representation. First, the common component of the two original input images is determined. Second, the common component is subtracted from the original images to obtain the unique component of each image. Third, the unique component of each image modality is subtracted from the image of the other modality. This step serves to enhance the representation of sensor-specific details in the final fused result. Finally, a fused color image is produced by displaying the images resulting from the last step through, respectively, the red and green channels of a color display. The method is applied to fuse thermal and visual images. The results show that the color mapping enhances the visibility of certain details and preserves the specificity of the sensor information. The fused images also have a fairly natural appearance. The fusion scheme involves only operations on corresponding pixels. The resolution of a fused image is therefore directly related to the resolution of the input images. Before fusing, the contrast of the images can be enhanced and their noise can be reduced by standard image-processing techniques. The color mapping algorithm is computationally simple. This implies that the investigated approaches can eventually be applied in real time and that the hardware needed is not too complicated or too voluminous (an important consideration when it has to fit in an airplane, for instance).