Coherence scanning microscopy is a new technique in high resolution imaging. It shares many of the features of confocal microscopy but uses coherence effects to enhance the lateral and longitudinal resolution rather than physical apertures. This approach has two significant implications for profilometry: The longitudinal resolution is decoupled from the lateral resolution, and interference effects can be used to further enhance the longitudinal resolution. We detail the features of coherence scanning profilometry and give some examples. © 1990 Optical Society of America.