- Spatial and temporal patterns of forest background (understory) reflectance are crucial for retrieving biophysical parameters of forest canopies (overstory) and subsequently for ecosystem modeling. In this communication, we retrieved seasonal courses of understory normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) from multiangular Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer bidirectional reflectance distribution function (MODIS BRDF)/albedo data. We compared satellite-based seasonal courses of understory NDVI to understory NDVI values measured in different types of forests distributed along a wide latitudinal gradient (65.12°N–31.35°N). Our results indicated that the retrieval method performs well particularly over open forests of different types. We also demonstrated the limitations of the method for closed canopies, where the understory signal retrieval is much attenuated.