A geometrical-optics approximation was used to calculate the mass-normalized rate of RF energy absorption (the specific absorption rate or SAR) in cylindrical models of man and in experimental animals irradiated by an electromagnetic (EM) plane wave at high radio frequencies. Comparison of these results with corresponding geometrical-optics calculations for prolate spheroidal models showed that the relative absorptive cross section of the prolate spheroidal and cylindrical models of man are essentially the same at frequencies above 20 GHz. The exact solution for the SAR in a lossy, infinitely long homogeneous circular cylinder exposed to an electromagnetic plane wave, for perpendicular incidence and with the incident E field both perpendicular and parallel to the axis, is also given. Although the formal solution is in the literature, data showing SARs for very lossy cylinders have apparently not been calculated. Curves showing SAR versus frequency for cylindrical models of man and animals in comparison with composite curves obtained from prolate spheroidal calculation are presented. It is shown that the exact solution for SARs in cylindrical models of animals and human beings appears to be a good approximation in the frequency range just below the geometrical-optics limit, thus providing an important method for extending the calculation of SARs into a range of frequencies where calculations were not available previously.