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We measured images and Fourier images of fluorescence for 0.11- and 0.22-μm-diameter dye-doped polystyrene microsphere beads on a solid immersion lens, and experimentally verified strongly angle-dependent fluorescence intensities due to efficient near-field optical coupling in solid immersion fluorescence microscopy. The results are interpreted in comparison with calculated emission patterns of an emission dipole placed near a solid surface, which establish a basic model for high-collection efficiency in solid-immersion fluorescence microscopy. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.