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Vibro-acoustography is a method that produces images of the acoustic response of a material to a localized harmonic motion generated by ultrasound radiation force. The low-frequency, oscillatory radiation force (e.g., 10 kHz) is produced by amplitude modulating a single ultrasound beam, or by interfering two beams of slightly different frequencies. Proper beam forming for the stress field of the probing ultrasound is very important because it determines the resolution of the imaging system. Three beam-forming geometries are studied: amplitude modulation, confocal, and x-focal. The amplitude of radiation force on a unit point target is calculated from the ultrasound energy density averaged over a short period of time. The profiles of radiation stress amplitude oil the focal plane and on the beam axis are derived. The theory is validated by experiments using a small sphere as a point target. A laser vibrometer is used to measure the velocity of the sphere, which is proportional to the radiation stress exerted on the target as the transducer is scanned over the focal plane or along the beam axis. The measured velocity profiles match the theory. The theory and experimental technique may be useful in future transducer design for vibro-acoustography.