We introduce an approach to feature-based object recognition, using maximum a posteriori (MAP) estimation under a Markov random field (MRF) model. This approach provides an efficient solution for a wide class of priors that explicitly model dependencies between individual features of an object. These priors capture phenomena such as the fact that unmatched features due to partial occlusion are generally spatially correlated rather than independent. The main focus of this paper is a special case of the framework that yields a particularly efficient approximation method. We call this special case "spatially coherent matching" (SCM), as it reflects the spatial correlation among neighboring features of an object. The SCM method operates directly on the image feature map, rather than relying on the graph-based methods used in the general framework. We present some Monte Carlo experiments showing that SCM yields substantial improvements over Hausdorff matching for cluttered scenes and partially occluded objects.