- We show how group symmetries can be used to reconstruct quantum states. The method we propose is presented in the context of the two-mode SU(1,1) states of the radiation field. In our scheme for SU(1,1) states, the input field passes through a nondegenerate parametric amplifier and one measures the probability of finding the output state with a certain number (usually zero) of photons in each mode. The density matrix in the Fock basis is retrieved from the measured data by the least-squares method after singular value decomposition of the design matrix followed by Tikhonov regularization. Several illustrative examples involving the reconstruction of a pair coherent state, a Perelomov coherent state, and a coherent superposition of pair coherent states are considered. 2001 The American Physical Society.