Shape deformation is a useful tool for shape modeling and animation in computer graphics. In this paper, we propose a novel surface deformation method based on a feature sensitive (FS) metric. Firstly, taking unit normal vectors into account, we derive a FS Laplacian operator, which is more sensitive to featured regions of mesh models than existing operators. Secondly, we use the 1-ring tetrahedron in the dual mesh, a volumetric structure, to encode geometric details. To preserve the shape of the tetrahedron, we introduce linear tetrahedron constraints minimizing both the distortion of the base triangle and the change of the corresponding height. These ensure that geometric details are accurately preserved during deformation. The time complexity of our new method is similar to that of existing linear Laplacian methods. Examples are included to show that our FS deformation method better preserves mesh details, especially features, than existing Laplacian methods. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.