Attenuation leads to distortion of amplitude and phase of seismic waves propagating inside the earth. Conventional acoustic and least-squares reverse time migration do not account for this distortion which leads to defocusing of migration images in highly attenuative geological environments. To account for this distortion, we propose to use the visco-acoustic wave equation for least-squares reverse time migration. Numerical tests on synthetic data show that least-squares reverse time migration with the visco-acoustic wave equation corrects for this distortion and produces images with better balanced amplitudes compared to the conventional approach. © 2013 SEG.