A general formalism for finding the electromagnetic fields in layered-inhomogeneous liquid-crystalline planar-anisotropic structures using the geometrical-optics approximation is presented. Explicit expressions for the fields in the zeroth-order geometrical-optics approximation are obtained. The criterion for the zeroth-order approximation to be valid is given. The results are applied to a wave propagation in a periodically bent nematic liquid crystal, and excellent agreement between the geometrical-optics approximation and the exact solution is demonstrated. © 1985 Optical Society of America.