The propagation of arbitrary laser beams in free space is examined. For this purpose, starting with an incident field of arbitrary field distribution, the intensity at the receiver plane is formulated via Huygens Fresnel diffraction integral. Arbitrary source field profile is produced by decomposing the source into incremental areas (pixels). The received field through the propagation in free space is found by superposing the contributions from all source incremental areas. The proposed method enables us to evaluate the received intensity originating from any type of source field. Using the arbitrary beam excitation, intensity of various laser beams such as cos-Gaussian, cosh-Gaussian, general type beams are checked to be consistent with the already existing results in literature, and the received intensity distributions are obtained for some original arbitrary beam field profiles. Our received intensity formulation for the arbitrary source field profiles presented in this paper can find application in optics communication links, reflection from rough surfaces, optical cryptography and optical imaging systems. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.