We set out to assess the influence of a teleradiology network on the relations between a general hospital and a 100 km distant university hospital in the context of neurosurgical emergencies, and compared a commercially available technology, N-ISDN (Narrowband Integrated Service/Digital Network), to an emerging technology, ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode). The evaluation was conducted using records of advice request calls and patient transfers. Three phases were considered: without teleradiology, with transfer of digitized images over N-ISDN at 64 kbps, and with an experimental ATM network at 10.5 Mbps with DICOM image transfers and videoconferencing. Additionally, staff meetings over ATM videoconferencing were set up. To assess the ATM service, we used log files and questionnaires, 108 advice requests were studied over a 18 month period. The average transmission time for one examination was 38 s with full DICOM image resolution over ATM, versus 150 s with 10:1 JPEG (Joint Photographic Expert Group) compression over N-ISDN. Up to 50% unnecessary patient transfers were avoided. Advice requests increased fourfold, and non-urgent advice requests increased from 0 to 21%. Despite the experimental configuration of the ATM network, the service gave satisfaction to all the physicians. Videoconferencing was unanimously regarded as a prominent tool to improve the quality of interaction. It was particularly useful for non-urgent cases and distant staff meetings. Teleradiology can improve the relations between hospitals through an increase of urgent and non-urgent advice requests. Asynchronous transfer mode is an efficient way for fast transfer of radiological examinations in DICOM format and for discussing them through high-quality videoconferencing.