We present an elastic registration algorithm for the alignment of biological images. Our method combines and extends some of the best techniques available in the context of medical imaging. We express the deformation field as a B-spline model, which allows us to deal with a rich variety of deformations. We solve the registration problem by minimizing a pixelwise mean-square distance measure between the target image and the warped source. The problem is further constrained by way of a vector-spline regularization which provides some control over two independent quantities that are intrinsic to the deformation: its divergence, and its curl. Our algorithm is also able to handle soft landmark constraints, which is particularly useful when parts of the images contain very little information or when its repartition is uneven. We provide an optimal analytical solution in the case when only landmarks and smoothness considerations are taken into account. We have applied our approach to perform the elastic registration of images such as electrophoretic gels and fly embryos. The validation of the results by experts has been favorable in all cases.