This report concerns 172 patients with sonographically diagnosed benign and malignant splenic lesions. A variety of echopatterns was observed, but a differential diagnosis was often impossible without contributory clinical data. Thirteen patients underwent ultrasound-guided fine-needle biopsy for histological confirmation or therapy. In 14 cases splenectomy was performed for treatment or final diagnosis. Twenty-three patients had malignant space-occupying lesions of the spleen. 26 cases presented with normal splenic size, 47 showed splenomegaly of different extent. Lymphoma was the main basic illness in 60 patients. Thirteen cases presented with splenic metastases from other neoplasms. 71 malignant splenic lesions were hypoechoic when compared with normal splenic echotexture. Only two patients exhibited hyperechoic metastases. In three cases a 'halo' sign was seen. In 99 patients benign focal lesions of the spleen were diagnosed. These included splenic infarction (n = 36), dysontogenetic cysts (n = 23), splenic abscesses (n = 7), splenic calcification (n = 13), and hyperechoic lesions (n = 17) most probably representing splenic hemangioma.