Spiral computed tomographic (CT) data sets coupled with a real-time volume-rendering technique allow creation of accurate three-dimensional (3D) images that can be used for a wide range of clinical applications. The image contrast of and relative pixel attenuations in the final image can be interactively modified by the user in real time by manipulating trapezoidal transfer functions. Although 3D images are not required for diagnosis, they aid both radiologists and referring clinicians by demonstrating anatomic relationships and the extent of disease, particularly for vessels oriented in the z axis. Three-dimensional imaging of the vasculature and airway structures has many advantages, including the potential to obviate invasive procedures such as angiography and bronchoscopy. Clinical applications of volume rendering of spiral CT data include cardiovascular imaging (aorta, pulmonary vasculature, and venous abnormalities), staging of thoracic neoplasms (mediastinal and pulmonary masses), tracheobronchial imaging, and imaging of chest wall disease.