Fluorescein angiograms from diabetics were digitised for analysis using digital image-processing techniques. Computer algorithms were written to detect and count microaneurysms present in the images. The accuracy, speed and reproducibility of the technique were assessed and compared with those of manual counts made by clinicians from both digitised and analogue images. Free-response ROC (receiver operating characteristic) curves were used to assess the performance of both the clinicians and the computer by comparing the results with "gold standards" compiled from prints of the original fluorescein angiograms. The computer performed as well as the clinicians when the latter were analysing the digitised images (512 x 512 pixel resolution), but only when one image was acquired at 4 times this resolution did the computer's performance match that of the clinicians analysing the analogue image. The automated technique was more reproducible than the manual method.