Conventional transcranial color-coded real-time sonography of the vertebrobasilar system is limited by imaging problems of the distal segment of the basilar artery. Lung-stable contrast-enhancing agents may overcome this problem by enhancing the quality of Doppler signals by as much as 20%. Fourty-two patients underwent sonographic evaluation of the vertebrobasilar system before and after receiving intravenously administered galactose-based contrast-enhancing agent Levovist by transforaminal and transtemporal routes. Imaging quality was classified into five categories depending on the length of visible color-flow by transforaminal approach: 1--no signal, 2--1-9.9 mm, 3--10-19.9 mm, 4--20-29.9 mm, 5--> or = 30 mm. For transtemporal insonation, imaging quality was classified either as no color flow or sufficient color flow of the basilar tip. By unenhanced investigation, average signal length of color flow was 16 +/- 8 mm for transforaminal investigation; application of Levovist improved this value to 26.6 +/- 6 mm. For unenhanced transforminal approach, 4.8% were assigned to category 1, 11.9% to category 2, 54.8% to category 3, 23.8% to category 4 and 4.8% to category 5. After signal enhancement with Levovist, category 1 covered 0%, category 2 2.4%, category 3 7.14%, category 4 59.5% and category 5 30.9% (p < 0.001). Unenhanced transtemporal approach allowed identification of the basilar tip in 78.6% with an average length of 6.3 +/- 2 mm; contrast enhancement improved this values to 92.9% and 8.3 +/- 3.3 mm respectively (p < 0.05). The application of transpulmonary contrast-enhancing agents improves the reliability of transcranial color-coded duplex sonography of the basilar artery.