Intravascular ultrasound imaging is a new method in which high resolution images of the arterial wall are obtained with use of a catheter placed within an artery. An in vitro Plexiglas well model was used to validate measurements of the luminal area, and an excellent correlation was obtained. One hundred thirty segments of fresh peripheral arteries underwent ultrasound imaging and the findings were compared with the corresponding histopathologic sections. Luminal areas determined with ultrasound imaging correlated well with those calculated from microscopic slides (r = 0.98). Three patterns were identified on the ultrasound images: 1) distinct interface between media and adventitia, 2) indistinct interface between media and adventitia but different echo density layers, and 3) diffuse homogeneous appearance. The types of patterns depended on the relative composition of the media and adventitia. Calcification of intimal plaque obscured underlying structures. Atherosclerotic plaque was readily visualized but could not always be differentiated from the underlying media.