A technique for measuring surface roughness in the submicrometer range is developed. The principle of the method is based on laser scattering from a rough surface. A telecentric optical setup that uses a laser diode as a light source is used to record the light field scattered from the surface of a rough object. The light intensity distribution of the scattered band, which is correlated to the surface roughness, is recorded by a linear photodiode array and analyzed using a singlechip microcomputer. Several sets of test surfaces prepared by different machining processes are measured and a method for the evaluation of surface roughness is proposed.