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A finite-element full-vectorial beam-propagation method is presented, for the first time, for the analysis of 3-D anisotropic optical waveguides. Full 3/spl times/3 permittivity and permeability tensors are considered. The formulation takes into account the polarization dependence and the component coupling due to the waveguide geometry and the medium anisotropy without any analytical approximations. The perfectly matched anisotropic absorber is introduced to eliminate the influence of the computational border on the numerical solutions. The correctness of the proposed approach is verified by analyzing several kinds of anisotropies. For the first time, a full vectorial finite-element propagation analysis is presented for diffuse waveguides and magnetooptic devices.