Within ESA's Earth Observation programme, the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) is one of the payload components of the European polar platform ENVISAT-1. MERIS will be operated with a standard band setting of 15 bands. The objective of this paper was to study whether the vegetation red edge index can be derived from the MERIS standard band setting. This red edge provides useful information on the physiological status of the vegetation. Two different data sets are explored for simulating the red edge using MERIS spectral bands. Results show that the maximum first derivative and a three-point Lagrangian technique are not appropriate measures for the red edge index. A 'linear method', estimating the inflexion point as the reflectance midpoint between the NIR plateau and the red minimum, is a more robust method. Results also show that the MERIS bands at 665, 705, 753.75 and 775 nm can be used for applying the linear method for red edge index estimation. However, since the band at 753.75 nm is located very close to the oxygen absorption feature of the atmosphere, an atmospheric correction must be applied previous to calculating the position of the red edge using the MERIS bands.