In the last years, motor vehicle lighting systems were required to be more efficient, to have shorter development times and to be of higher quality. One important tool used in complying with these demands is the computer calculation of the optical characteristics of the complete headlamp system. A newly developed software package is presented in this paper which permits the configuration of a headlamp in its basic optical components and the quantitative calculation of its light distribution, luminous flux and other optical quantities. It is now possible for the first time, to assess a headlamp's total light pattern in advance, without hardware (e.g. model headlamps etc.) being required. The simulation results show a high degree of concurrence between the computed and the measured light distributions. This will be demonstrated in detail using concrete examples.