Retrospective evaluations were made of abdominal echograms in 61 patients who underwent liver biopsy within 3 weeks after ultrasound study. Without knowledge of clinical or biopsy data, determinations were made by two independent observers of: (1) liver size, (2) beam penetration, (3) echogenicity, (4) vascularity, (5) ancillary abnormality, and (6) diagnostic impression. Using these parameters, the presence of generalized parenchymal disease was identified in 81% of reviews of patients with cirrhosis. Thus, in patients with known cirrhosis, there was a 19% false negative rate. In normal patients, 76% were correctly called normal by the reviewers. However, in 24% generalized parenchymal disease was suggested (24% false positive). Patients with fatty liver could not be reliably distinguished from patients with cirrhosis, nor could patients with hepatitis be easily separated from those with normal livers. In all of these determinations, the combination of several features provided more diagnostic accuracy than any single echographic finding.