In this paper we characterize the Polarimetric properties of a liquid crystal on silicon display (LCoS), including depolarization and diattenuation which are usually not considered when applying the LCoS in diffractive or adaptive optics. On one hand, we have found that the LCoS generates a certain degree (that can be larger than a 10%) of depolarized light, which depends on the addressed gray level and on the incident state of polarization (SOP), and can not be ignored in the above mentioned applications. The main origin of the depolarized light is related with temporal fluctuations of the SOP of the light reflected by the LCoS. The Mueller matrix of the LCoS is measured as a function of the gray level, which enables for a numerical optimization of the intensity modulation configurations. In particular we look for maximum intensity contrast modulation or for constant intensity modulation. By means of a heuristic approach we show that, using elliptically polarized light, amplitude-mostly or phase-mostly modulation can be obtained at a wavelength of 633 nm. ©2007 Optical Society of America.