Inverse problem solutions in NDE can be broadly classified as model-based approach and system-based approach. In model-based approach an accurate forward model is used in an iterative framework to provide a defect shape that minimizes the error between the measured signal and a simulated signal. However this approach results in repeated executions of a three dimensional forward model in each iteration, making it computationally demanding. This paper presents a direct approach to inversion using principles of time reversal. The feasibility of the approach is demonstrated via application to microwave NDE data. A two-dimensional finite difference time domain model for simulating the propagation of forward and time reversed wave fields is first developed. The key advantage of the approach is that it provides a model-based inversion method that is not iterative. Simulation and experimental results validating the approach are presented. © 2011 American Institute of Physics.