The effect of fringe-field coupling on the magnetization reversal process in submicrometer scale giant magnetoresistive pillars consisting of [NiFe/Cu]6 has been investigated by means of current perpendicular to plane magnetoresistance measurements and numerical simulations. The parabolic and reversible magnetoresistance curves due to an opposite rotation of magnetization in neighboring NiFe layers were observed. To explain the field sensitivity of the pillars quantitatively, we have proposed a modified single-domain model, where the magnetic energy of the system is reconstructed using the result of the micromagnetic simulation of a magnetostatically coupled bilayer system. The calculated magnetoresistance curves are consistent with the experimental ones. From the calculated results, the amplitude of the saturation field is found to be proportional to the thickness of the ferromagnetic layer and inversely proportional to the square root of the nonmagnetic layer thickness.