In this paper novel approaches based on anisotropic coupled diffusion equations are presented to do filter and binarization for ESPI fringes. An advantageous characteristic associated with the proposed technique is that diffusion takes place mainly along the direction of the edge. Therefore, the proposed anisotropic coupled diffusion filter method can avoid blur of the fringe edge and protect the useful information of the fringe patterns. The anisotropic coupled diffusion binarization, which can repair the image boundary anisotropically, is able to avoid the redundant burr. More important, it can be directly applied to the noisy ESPI fringe patterns without much preprocessing, which is a significant advance in fringe analysis for ESPI. The effective of the proposed methods are tested by means of the computer-simulated and experimentally obtained fringe patterns, respectively. © 2012 Optical Society of America.