The detectability of nodules displayed on uniform backgrounds was compared with their detectability on chest images by using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves. The images were displayed using a digital television system. Two conditions, chest image and uniform background, were compared at three different levels of added random noise. The viewing conditions were made as similar as possible by setting the luminance of the uniform background equal to the luminance of the lung in the chest image. Nodule detectability was significantly lower for the chest image than for the uniform background at each level of added random noise. The anatomic structure of the chest image interferes with the structural integrity of the nodule image resulting in lower detection performance.