Love-wave propagation has been a topic of interest to crustal, earthquake, and engineering seismologists for many years because it is independent of Poisson's ratio and more sensitive to shear (S)-wave velocity changes and layer thickness changes than are Rayleigh waves. It is well known that Love-wave generation requires the existence of a low S-wave velocity layer in a multilayered earth model. In order to study numerically the propagation of Love waves in a layered earth model and dispersion characteristics for near-surface applications, we simulate high-frequency (>5 Hz) Love waves by the staggered-grid finite-difference (FD) method. The air-earth boundary (the shear stress above the free surface) is treated using the stress-imaging technique. We use a two-layer model to demonstrate the accuracy of the staggered-grid modeling scheme. We also simulate four-layer models including a low-velocity layer (LVL) or a high-velocity layer (HVL) to analyze dispersive energy characteristics for near-surface applications. Results demonstrate that: (1) the staggered-grid FD code and stress-imaging technique are suitable for treating the free-surface boundary conditions for Love-wave modeling, (2) Love-wave inversion should be treated with extra care when a LVL exists because of a lack of LVL information in dispersions aggravating uncertainties in the inversion procedure, and (3) energy of high modes in a low-frequency range is very weak, so that it is difficult to estimate the cutoff frequency accurately, and "mode-crossing" occurs between the second higher and third higher modes when a HVL exists. ?? 2010 Birkh??user / Springer Basel AG.