A head exposure setup for efficient and precisely defined exposure of human subjects equipped with a near-infrared imaging (NIRI) sensor is presented. In a partially shielded anechoic chamber the subjects were exposed to Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS)-like electromagnetic fields (EMF) by using a patch antenna at a distance of 4 cm from the head. The non-contact design of the exposure setup enabled NIRI sensors to easily attach to the head. Moreover, different regions of the head were chosen for localised exposure and simultaneous NIRI investigation. The control software enabled the simple adaptation of the test parameters during exploratory testing as well as the performance of controlled, randomised, crossover and double-blind provocation studies. Four different signals with a carrier frequency of 1900 MHz were chosen for the exposure: a simple continuous wave signal and three different UMTS signals. Furthermore, three exposure doses were available: sham, low (spatial peak specific absorption rate (SAR) = 0.18 W/kg averaged over 10 g) and high (spatial peak SAR = 1.8 W/kg averaged over 10 g). The SAR assessment was performed by measurement and simulation. Direct comparison of measurement and numerical results showed good agreement in terms of spatial peak SAR and SAR distribution. The variability analysis of the spatial peak SAR over 10 g was assessed by numerical simulations. Maximal deviations of -22% and +32% from the nominal situation were observed. Compared to other exposure setups, the present setup allows for low exposure uncertainty, combined with high SAR efficiency, easy access for the NIRI sensor and minimal impairment of test subjects. Bioelectromagnetics.