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General principles which determine the frequency dependence of both absorption and velocity of ultrasound in matter are outlined and applied to cell suspensions and tissues. The mechanisms which are responsible in the biological case for the experimentally observed frequency dependence of ultrasonic properties are described. They relate predominantly to macromolecular components. Finally, the relationships which pertain to the propagation of ultrasound in heterogeneous tissue complexes are discussed, and consequences for the medical application as a therapeutic tool are considered.