Signals of many types of aerosol lidars can be affected with a significant systematic error, if depolarizing scatterers are present in the atmosphere. That error is caused by a polarization-dependent receiver transmission. In this contribution we present an estimation of the magnitude of this systematic error. We show that lidar signals can be biased by more than 20%, if linearly polarized laser light is emitted, if both polarization components of the backscattered light are measured with a single detection channel, and if the receiver transmissions for these two polarization components differ by more than 50%. This signal bias increases with increasing ratio between the two transmission values (transmission ratio) or with the volume depolarization ratio of the scatterers. The resulting error of the particle backscatter coefficient increases with decreasing backscatter ratio. Ifthe particle backscatter coefficients are to have an accuracy better than 5%, the transmission ratio has to be in the range between 0.85 and 1.15. We present a method to correct the measured signals for this bias. We demonstrate an experimental method for the determination of the transmission ratio. We use collocated measurements of a lidar system strongly affected by this signal bias and an unbiased reference system to verify the applicability of the correction scheme. The errors in the case ofno correction are illustrated with example measurements of fresh Saharan dust.