This paper introduces two spatial methods in order to embed watermark data into fingerprint images, without corrupting their features. The first method inserts watermark data after feature extraction, thus preventing watermarking of regions used for fingerprint classification. The method utilizes an image adaptive strength adjustment technique which results in watermarks with low visibility. The second method introduces a feature adaptive watermarking technique for fingerprints, thus applicable before feature extraction. For both of the methods, decoding does not require original fingerprint image. Unlike most of the published spatial watermarking methods, the proposed methods provide high decoding accuracy for fingerprint images. High data hiding and decoding performance for color images is also observed. (C) 2002 Pattern Recognition Society. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.