We present a novel approach to finding a correspondence (alignment) between two curves. The correspondence is based on a notion of an alignment curve which treats both curves symmetrically. We then define a similarity metric based on the alignment curve using two intrinsic properties of the curve, namely, length and curvature. The optimal correspondence is found by an efficient dynamic-programming method both for aligning pairs of curve segments and pairs of closed curves, and is effective in the presence of a variety of transformations of the curve. Finally, the correspondence is shown in application to handwritten character recognition, prototype formation, and object recognition, and is potentially useful in other applications such as registration and tracking.