This paper presents a two level hierarchical fusion of face images captured under visible and infrared light spectrum to improve the performance of face recognition. At image level fusion, two face images from different spectrums are fused using DWT based fusion algorithm. At feature level fusion, the amplitude and phase features are extracted from the fused image using 2D log polar Gabor wavelet. An adaptive SVM learning algorithm intelligently selects either the amplitude or phase features to generate a fused feature set for improved face recognition. The recognition performance is observed under the worst case scenario of using single training images. Experimental results on Equinox face database show that the combination of visible light and short-wave IR spectrum face images yielded the best recognition performance with an equal error rate of 2.86%. The proposed image-feature fusion algorithm also performed better than existing fusion algorithms. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.