ABSTRACT Three-dimensional ground-penetrating radar (3D GPR) was used to investigate the subsurface structure of ice-wedge polygons and other features of the frozen active layer and near-surface permafrost near Barrow, Alaska. Surveys were conducted at three sites located on landscapes of different geomorphic age. At each site, sediment cores were collected and characterised to aid interpretation of GPR data. At two sites, 3D GPR was able to delineate subsurface ice-wedge networks with high fidelity. Threedimensional GPR data also revealed a fundamental difference in ice-wedge morphology between these two sites that is consistent with differences in landscape age. At a third site, the combination of two-dimensional and 3D GPR revealed the location of an active frost boil with ataxitic cryostructure. When supplemented by analysis of soil cores, 3D GPR offers considerable potential for imaging, interpreting and 3D mapping of near-surface soil and ice structures in permafrost environments. Copyright # 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.