A 2D axisymmetric formulation for the solution of a directional solidification problem using an inverse finite-element method (IFEM) is presented. An algorithm developed by A. N. Alexandrou (Int. J. Numer. Methods Eng.28, 2383, 1989) has been modified and extended to include more general boundary conditions. The latter includes the explicit presence of an ampoule (with a complex shape) that contains the solid and the melt from which it is growing. Heat transfer between the ampoule and the external environment, time-dependent thermal boundary conditions, nonmonotonic temperature distributions, and species diffusion in the melt and crystal are also taken into account. Thus, our extended formulation encompasses a wider class of solidification problems than previous IFEM methods. Numerical experiments that illustrate the suitability of the extended IFEM are presented. In particular, we present a simulation of the directional solidification of zinc cadmium telluride using boundary conditions corresponding to an actual experiment scenario. © 1997 Academic Press.