This paper presents a novel Gabor-based kernel principal component analysis (PCA) method by integrating the Gabor wavelet representation of face images and the kernel PCA method for face recognition. Gabor wavelets first derive desirable facial features characterized by spatial frequency, spatial locality, and orientation selectivity to cope with the variations due to illumination and facial expression changes. The kernel PCA method is then extended to include fractional power polynomial models for enhanced face recognition performance. A fractional power polynomial, however, does not necessarily define a kernel function, as it might not define a positive semidefinite Gram matrix. Note that the sigmoid kernels, one of the three classes of widely used kernel functions (polynomial kernels, Gaussian kernels, and sigmoid kernels), do not actually define a positive semidefinite Gram matrix either. Nevertheless, the sigmoid kernels have been successfully used in practice, such as in building support vector machines. In order to derive real kernel PCA features, we apply only those kernel PCA eigenvectors that are associated with positive eigenvalues. The feasibility of the Gabor-based kernel PCA method with fractional power polynomial models has been successfully tested on both frontal and pose-angled face recognition, using two data sets from the FERET database and the CMU PIE database, respectively. The FERET data set contains 600 frontal face images of 200 subjects, while the PIE data set consists of 680 images across five poses (left and right profiles, left and right half profiles, and frontal view) with two different facial expressions (neutral and smiling) of 68 subjects. The effectiveness of the Gabor-based kernel PCA method with fractional power polynomial models is shown in terms of both absolute performance indices and comparative performance against the PCA method, the kernel PCA method with polynomial kernels, the kernel PCA method with fractional power polyno- - mial models, the Gabor wavelet-based PCA method, and the Gabor wavelet-based kernel PCA method with polynomial kernels.