in relation to a polar continuum, this paper presents a 2-D shear deformable theory for the high frequency vibrations of a thin elastic shell. To begin with, the 3-D fundamental equations of the micropolar elastic continuum are expressed as the Euler-Lagrange equations of a unified variational principle. Next, the kinematic variables of the shell are represented by the power series expansions in its thickness coordinate, and then, they are used to establish the 2-D theory by means of the variational principle. The 2-D theory is derived in invariant variational and differential forms and governs all the types of vibrations of the functionally graded micropolar shell. Lastly, the uniqueness is investigated in solutions of the initial mixed boundary value problems defined by the 2-D theory, and some of special cases are indicated in the theory. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.