Accurate knowledge of surface emissivity is essential for applications in remote sensing (remote temperature measurement), radiative transport, and modeling of environmental energy balances. Direct measurements of surface emissivity are difficult when there is considerable background radiation at the same wavelength as the emitted radiation. This occurs, for example, when objects at temperatures near room temperature are measured in a terrestrial environment by use of the infrared 8–14-μmband. This problem is usually treated by assumption of a perfectly diffuse surface or of diffuse background radiation. However, real surfaces and actual background radiation are not diffuse; therefore there will be a systematic measurement error. It is demonstrated that, in some cases, the deviations from a diffuse behavior lead to large errors in the measured emissivity. Past measurements made with simplifying assumptions should therefore be reevaluated and corrected. Recommendations are presented for improving experimental procedures in emissivity measurement.