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A novel method is introduced for the generation of landmarks for three-dimensional (3-D) shapes and the construction of the corresponding 3-D statistical shape models. Automatic landmarking of a set of manual segmentations from a class of shapes is achieved by 1) construction of an atlas of the class, 2) automatic extraction of the landmarks from the atlas, and 3) subsequent propagation of these landmarks to each example shape via a volumetric nonrigid registration technique using multiresolution B-spline deformations. This approach presents some advantages over previously published methods: it can treat multiple-part structures and requires less restrictive assumptions on the structure's topology. In this paper, we address the problem of building a 3-D statistical shape model of the left and right ventricle of the heart from 3-D magnetic resonance images. The average accuracy in landmark propagation is shown to be below 2.2 mm. This application demonstrates the robustness and accuracy of the method in the presence of large shape variability and multiple objects.