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We describe an optical metrology for measuring shear-induced structure and orientation in dilute dispersions of multiwalled carbon nanotubes. Small-angle polarized light scattering and optical microscopy are combined in situ to quantify the structural anisotropy of multiwalled carbon nanotubes in semidilute, surfactant-stabilized aqueous suspensions under simple shear flow. Measurements performed as a function of the applied shear rate are used to demonstrate the capabilities and limitations of the experimental technique, which should be suitable for probing the shear response of polymer-nanotube melts and solutions. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.