Since individual tree leaf area is an important measure for productivity as well as for site occupancy, it is of high interest in many studies about forest growth. The exact determination of leaf area is nearly impossible. Thus, a common way to get information about leaf area is to use substitutes. These substitutes are often variables which are collected in a destructive way which is not feasible for long term studies. Therefore, this study aimed at testing the applicability of using substitutes for leaf area which could be collected in a non-destructive way, namely crown surface area and crown projection area. In 8 stands of Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst.), divided into three age classes and two thinning treatments, a total of 156 trees were felled in order to test the relationship between leaf area and crown surface area and crown projection area, respectively. Individual tree leaf area of the felled sample trees was estimated by 3P-branch sampling with an accuracy of ±10%. Crown projection area and crown surface area were compared with other, more commonly used, but destructive predictors of leaf area, namely sapwood area at different heights on the bole. Our investigations confirmed findings of several studies that sapwood area is the most precise measure for leaf area because of the high correlation between sapwood area and the leaf area. But behind sapwood area at crown base and sapwood area at three tenth of the tree height the predictive ability of crown surface area was ranked third and even better than that of sapwood area at breast height (R(2) = 0.656 compared with 0.600). Within the stands leaf area is proportional to crown surface area. Using the pooled data of all stands a mixed model approach showed that additionally to crown surface area dominant height and diameter at breast height (dbh) improved the leaf area estimates. Thus, taking dominant height and dbh into account, crown surface area can be recommended for estimating the leaf area of individual trees. The resulting model was in line with many other findings on the leaf area and leaf mass relationships with crown size. From the additional influence of dominant height and dbh in the leaf area model we conclude that the used crown model could be improved by estimating the position of the maximum crown width and the crown width at the base of the crown depending on these two variables.