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This study describes the implementation of an iris recognition algorithm based on hardware-software co-design. The system architecture consists of a general-purpose 32-bit microprocessor and several slave coprocessors that accelerate the most intensive calculations. The whole iris recognition algorithm has been implemented on a low-cost Spartan 3 FPGA, achieving significant reduction in execution time when compared with a conventional software-based application. Experimental results show that with a clock speed of 40-MHz, an IrisCode is obtained in -523-ms from an image of 640-480 pixels, which is just 20- of the total time needed by a software solution running on the same microprocessor embedded in the architecture.