Ultrasound and palpation findings of 17 patients with branchiogenic cysts were studied. Results were compared with operative and histopathologic findings in 13 patients, and to fistulography, cytologic examination and/or CT in 4 patients. Ultrasound findings (appearance, location and extension) were characteristic in 15 of 17 cases. Palpation proved to be incorrect or inconclusive in more than half of the patients. It is concluded that ultrasound examination of the neck may contribute to the correct presurgery diagnosis of branchiogenic cysts.