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Resolution and penetration are primary criteria for clinical image quality. Conventionally, high bandwidth for resolution was achieved with a short pulse, which results in a tradeoff between resolution and penetration. Coded excitation extends the bounds of this tradeoff by increasing signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) through appropriate coding on transmit and decoding on receive. Although used for about 50 years in radar, coded excitation was successfully introduced into commercial ultrasound scanners only within the last 5 years. This delay is at least partly due to practical implementation issues particular to diagnostic ultrasound, which are the focus of this paper. After reviewing the basics of biphase and chirp coding, we present simulation results to quantify tradeoffs between penetration and resolution under frequency-dependent attenuation, dynamic focusing, and nonlinear propagation. Next, we compare chirp and Golay code performance with respect to image quality and system requirements, then we show clinical images that illustrate the current applications of coded excitation in B-mode, harmonic, and flow imaging.