Rayleigh scattering of a laser beam in a gas jet is proposed for the measurements of initial density distribution of gas-puff liners. The scattering method has several advantages when compared with interferometry. In particular, it provides information on the local gas density, it is more sensitive, and the output data can be absolutely calibrated. Theoretical background of the method is briefly discussed in the paper and the optical setup used in real experiments is described. Imaging of the scattering object make it possible to detect detailed profiles of the investigated gas jet, as illustrated by several examples taken from the experiment. In some cases even the gas jet stratification has been observed. (J.U.). 1 tab., 3 figs., 1 ref.