Bolus dynamic and delayed computed tomographic (CT) scans of the liver were evaluated in 43 patients with 54 hepatic hemangiomas and 111 patients with primary or secondary malignant hepatic neoplasms. Twelve patterns of contrast enhancement were recognized during the bolus dynamic phase and delayed scanning. A "typical" CT pattern for hemangiomas (present in 29 of 54 hemangiomas [53.7%]) was established: (a) diminished attenuation prior to intravenous contrast medium administration (excluding lesions arising in a liver with diffuse fatty infiltration), (b) peripheral contrast enhancement during the bolus dynamic phase, and (c) complete isodense fill-in on delayed scan images. Using these criteria, we distinguished hemangiomas from malignant neoplasms in most patients. Only one of 63 (1.6%) malignant neoplasms manifested these typical CT criteria of hemangioma. There is an 86% chance that a lesion with the typical CT appearance of hemangioma is actually a hemangioma, even when found in a patient with a known nonhepatic primary neoplasm.