Accurate removal of surface-related multiples remains a challenge in many cases. To overcome typical inaccuracies in current multiple-removal techniques, we have developed a new primary-estimation method: estimation of primaries by sparse inversion (EPSI). EPSI is based on the same primary-multiple model as surface-related multiple elimination (SRME) and also requires no subsurface model. Unlike SRME, EPSI estimates the primaries as unknowns in a multidimensional inversion process rather than in a subtraction process. Furthermore, it does not depend on interpolated missing near-offset data because it can reconstruct missing data simultaneously. Sparseness plays a key role in the new primary-estimation procedure. The method was tested on 2D synthetic data.