A numerical method called cross-step iteration is proposed to calculate the maximal/minimal received power for polarized imagery based on a target's Kennaugh matrix. This method is much more efficient than the systematic method, which searches for the extrema of received power by varying the polarization ellipse angles of receiving and transmitting polarizations. It is also more advantageous than the Schuler method, which has been adopted by the PolSARPro package, because the cross-step iteration method requires less computation time and can derive both the maximal and minimal received powers, whereas the Schuler method is designed to work out only the maximal received power. The analytical model of received-power optimization indicates that the first eigenvalue of the Kennaugh matrix is the supremum of the maximal received power. The difference between these two parameters reflects the depolarization effect of the target's backscattering, which might be useful for target discrimination. ?? 2009 IEEE.