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This paper describes the implementation of two-dimensional recursive digital filters for real-time image processing. The filter structure is described by distributed arithmetic and the operations involved are memory fetches and additions. An error analysis of the two-dimensional filter structure described by distributed arithmetic is outlined and the expression for the mean-squared error is derived. This approach is compared to an equivalent conventional filter structure using multipliers. It is demonstrated that the distributed arithmetic implementation offers a significant reduction in cost as well as power consumption for real-time image processing. In addition, the hardware design of a second-order two-dimensional distributed filter is presented and its performance is examined. This filter is constructed using standard integrated circuits and memories and is capable of filtering images of sizes up to 256 × 256 pixels in real time.