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The fundamental limitations of 2-D electric-field-type applicators with heterogeneous tissue distributions are studied using the finite-different time-domain (FDTD) techinque configured as a hyperthermia applicator design tool. This design tool allows the designer to investigate ideas much more rapidly than could be done experimentally. The technique is described and the fundamental limitations of E-field applicators, including an unsuspected capacitive-coupling mode found in some electric dipole configurations is explained. The results of a numerical study of E applicators are summarized, and the utility of the FDTD technique as an applicator design tool is demonstrated.