A principal components analysis of the entire median HRIRs in the CIPIC HRTF database reveals that the individual HRIRs can be adequately reconstructed by a linear combination of several orthonormal basis functions. The basis functions cover the inter-individual and inter-elevation variations in median HRIRs. There are elevation-dependent tendencies in the weights of basis functions, and the basis functions can be ordered according to the magnitude of standard deviation of the weights at each elevation. We propose a HRIR customization method via tuning of the weights of 3 dominant basis functions corresponding to the 3 largest standard deviations at each elevation. Subjective listening test results show that both front-back reversal and vertical perception can be improved with the customized HRIRs.