Detailed experimental investigations of the amplitude dependence of flame describing functions (FDF) were performed using a stratified swirl-stabilized combustor, in order to understand the combustion-acoustic interactions of CH(4)lair flames propagating into nonhomogeneous reactant stoichiometry. Phase-synchronized OH planar laser induced fluorescence (OH PLIF) measurements were used to investigate local reaction zone structures of forced flames. To determine the amplitude-and frequency-dependent forced flame response, simultaneous measurements of inlet velocity and heat release rate oscillations were made using a constant temperature anemometer and photomultiplier tubes with narrow-band OH*/CH* interference filters. The measurements were made over a wide range of stratification ratios, including inner stream enrichment (phi(i) > phi(o)) and outer stream enrichment (phi(o) > phi(i)) conditions, and compared to the baseline condition of spatially and temporally homogeneous cases (phi(i) = phi(o)). Results show that for the inlet conditions investigated, fuel stratification has a significant influence on local and global flame structures of unforced and forced flames. Under stratified conditions, length scales of local contours were found to be much larger than the homogeneous case due to high kinematic viscosities associated with high temperature. Stratification has a remarkable effect on flame-vortex interactions when the flame is subjected to high-amplitude acoustic forcing, leading to different evolution patterns of FDF (amplitude and disturbance convective time) in response to the amplitude of the imposed inlet velocity oscillation. The present experimental investigation reveals that intentional stratification has the potential to eliminate or suppress the occurrence of detrimental combustion instability problems in lean-premixed gas turbine combustion systems.