Programmable apodizers written on a liquid crystal spatial light modulator (LCSLM) offer the possibility of modifying the point spread function (PSF) of an optical system in monochromatic light with a high degree of flexibility. Extension to polychromatic light has to take into account the liquid crystal response dependence on the wavelength. Proper control of the chromatic properties of the LCSLM in combination with the design of the correct apodizer is necessary for this new range of applications. In this paper we report a successful application of a programmable amplitude apodizer illuminated with polychromatic light. We use an axial apodizing filter to compensate the longitudinal secondary axial color (LSAC) effects of a refractive optical system on the polychromatic PSF. The configuration of the LCSLM has been optimized to obtain a good amplitude transmission in polychromatic light. Agreement between experimental and simulated results shows the feasibility of our proposal. © 2005 Optical Society of America.