This paper presents a strategy for reverse engineering that uses a coordinate measuring machine to reconstruct three-dimensional sculptured surfaces. A rough initial model of the surface is generated manually. An iterative method is then used to refine the surface model. The reverse engineering is broken down into three phases: data acquisition, surface reconstruction and surface evaluation. For data acquisition, an exhaustive search algorithm is used to find a safe probe orientation in the vicinity of the target surface, and a coarse cell decomposition method is followed to manipulate the coordinate measuring machine in its work space. Surfaces are modeled by using the B-spline approximation technique, and position difference between the surface model and the measured data is used as a simple criterium to evaluate the quality of the reconstructed surface model.