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A novel interactive virtual needle insertion simulation is presented. The simulation models are based on measured planar tissue deformations and needle insertion forces. Since the force-displacement relationship is only of interest along the needle shaft, a condensation technique is shown to reduce the computational complexity of linear simulation models significantly. As the needle penetrates or is withdrawn from the tissue model, the boundary conditions that determine the tissue and needle motion change. Boundary condition and local material coordinate changes are facilitated by fast low-rank matrix updates. A large-strain elastic needle model is coupled to the tissue models to account for needle deflection and bending during simulated insertion. A haptic environment, based on these novel interactive simulation techniques, allows users to manipulate a three-degree-of-freedom virtual needle as it penetrates virtual tissue models, while experiencing steering torques and lateral needle forces through a planar haptic interface.