We have previously shown that the intrinsic properties of myocardium can be characterized quantitatively by the assessment of ultrasonic integrated backscatter. In this study we utilized a novel, real-time, two-dimensional system capable of quantitative integrated backscatter imaging to determine whether zones of remote myocardial infarction in dogs could be delineated definitively by ultrasonic tissue characterization. Detection of such zones in patients is needed as a basis for management decisions related to thrombolysis, angioplasty, and coronary surgery. Integrated backscatter was measured through the closed chest from 25 myocardial sites. Zones of infarction exhibited time-averaged integrated backscatter values approximately 10 dB (9.5 +/- 0.5 dB, standard error of the mean) greater than those in normal regions (p less than 0.001). In addition, the physiologic cardiac cycle--dependent variation of integrated backscatter was blunted significantly in zones of infarction [0.8 dB +/- 0.3 vs. 3.8 +/- 0.6 (p less than 0.01) for normal regions]. Ultrasonic results matched the histopathologic features assessed directly. Thus quantitative ultrasonic tissue characterization can differentiate infarcted tissue from normal myocardium and offers promise for quantitative detection of histopathology in vivo.