Image registration plays an important role within pulmonary image analysis. Accurate registration is critical to post-analysis of lung mechanical properties. To improve registration accuracy, we utilize the rich information of vessel locations and shapes, and introduce a new similarity criterion, sum of squared vesselness measure difference (SSVMD). This metric is added to three existing intensity-based similarity criteria for nonrigid lung CT image registration to show its ability in improving matching accuracy. The registration accuracy is assessed by landmark error calculation and distance map visualization on vascular tree. The average landmark errors are reduced by over 20% and are within 0.7 mm after adding SSVMD constraint to three existing intensity-based similarity metrics. Visual inspection shows matching accuracy improvements in the lung regions near the thoracic cage and near the diaphragm. Experiments also show this vesselness constraint makes the Jacobian map of transformations physiologically more plausible and reliable.