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The angular dependence of the magnetization reversal process in the exchange biased ferromagnetic/antiferromagnetic bilayers has been investigated carefully using the Stoner–Wohlfarth rotation model. Depending strongly on the orientation of the applied field and the competition between the unidirectional and uniaxial anisotropic energies, the magnetization rotation can occur at either the same side or the different sides of the field direction for the decreasing and increasing field branches of the hysteresis loop. The calculated results and the magnetooptical Kerr effect have been used to understand the magnetization reversal process in the NiFe/NiO bilayers, which is caused mainly by the magnetization rotation. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.