Operational monitoring of vegetation and land surface change over large areas can make good use of satellite sensors that measure radiance reflected from the Earth’s surface. Monitoring programs use multiple images for complete spatial coverage over time. Accurate retrievals of vegetation cover and vegetation change estimates can be hampered by variation, in both space and time, in the measured radiance, caused by atmospheric conditions, topography, sensor location, and sun elevation. In order to obtain estimates of cover that are comparable between images, and to retrieve accurate estimates of change, these sources of variation must be removed. In this paper we present a preprocessing scheme for minimising atmospheric, topographic and bi-directional reflectance effects on Landsat-5 TM, Landsat-7 ETM+ and SPOT-5 HRG imagery. The approach involves atmospheric correction to compute surface-leaving radiance, and bi-directional reflectance modelling to remove the effects of topography and angular variation in reflectance. The bi-directional reflectance model has been parameterised for eastern Australia, but the general approach is more widely applicable. The result is surface reflectance standardised to a fixed viewing and illumination geometry. The method can be applied to the entire record for these instruments, without intervention, which is of increasing importance with the increased availability of long term image archives. Validation shows that the corrections improve the estimation of reflectance at any given angular configuration, thus allowing the removal from the reflectance signal of much variation due to factors independent of the land surface. The method has been used to process over 45,000 Landsat-5 TM and Landsat-7 ETM+ scenes and 2,500 SPOT-5 scenes, over eastern Australia, and is now in use in operational monitoring programs.