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The distribution of the optical near-field generated by a probe with a wedge-shaped metallic plate was calculated using a finite difference time domain method. The dependence of the distribution on the size and the material of the metallic plate was calculated, and it was shown that a strong optical near-field was generated at the apex of the metallic plate when the size and the material were optimized so that a surface plasmon was excited in the metallic plate. The influence of the recording medium was also calculated. The resonance wavelength shifted toward a longer wavelength and the decay length of the optical near-field increased when the recording medium was placed near the probe. The spot size calculated on the surface of the recording medium was 30 nm, and the efficiency (defined as the ratio between the power of the optical near-field at the surface of the recording medium and that of the incident light) was about 20% when the spacing between the probe and the recording medium was 10 nm. The near-field distribution for a probe with two metallic plates was also calculated, and it was shown that a strong optical near-field was generated between the apices of the metallic plates when the plasmon was excited in the metallic plates. © 2004 American Institute of Physics.