Optical lens systems suffer from nonlinear geometrical distortion. Optical imaging applications such as image-enhanced endoscopy and image-based bronchoscope tracking require correction of this distortion for accurate localization, tracking, registration, and measurement of image features. Real-time capability is desirable for interactive systems and live video. The use of a texture-mapping graphics accelerator, which is standard hardware on current motherboard chipsets and add-in video graphics cards, to perform distortion correction is proposed. Mesh generation for image tessellation, an error analysis, and performance results are presented. It is shown that distortion correction using commodity graphics hardware is substantially faster than using the main processor and can be performed at video frame rates (faster than 30 frames per second), and that the polar-based method of mesh generation proposed here is more accurate than a conventional grid-based approach. Using graphics hardware to perform distortion correction is not only fast and accurate but also efficient as it frees the main processor for other tasks, which is an important issue in some real-time applications.