3-D CAD models are an important digital resource in the manufacturing industry. 3-D CAD model retrieval has become a key technology in product lifecycle management enabling the reuse of existing design data. In this paper, we propose a new method to retrieve 3-D CAD models based on 2-D pen-based sketch inputs. Sketching is a common and convenient method for communicating design intent during early stages of product design, e.g., conceptual design. However, converting sketched information into precise 3-D engineering models is cumbersome, and much of this effort can be avoided by reuse of existing data. To achieve this purpose, we present a user-adaptive sketch-based retrieval method in this paper. The contributions of this work are twofold. First, we propose a statistical measure for CAD model retrieval: the measure is based on sketch similarity and accounts for users' drawing habits. Second, for 3-D CAD models in the database, we propose a sketch generation pipeline that represents each 3-D CAD model by a small yet sufficient set of sketches that are perceptually similar to human drawings. User studies and experiments that demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method in the design process are presented.