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Shaded surface display is a useful aid in visualizing and analyzing three-dimensional biological and medical images. However, currently available algorithms have limitations, particularly when applied to clinically important image data requiring fast and flexible interactive analysis. In addition to the problem of computation time is the cost of specialized hardware and the quality of shading. A new algorithm has been designed for use with three-dimensional biological/ medical images which attempts to overcome these limitations. This is accomplished by eliminating less important capabilities and optimizing the essential ones of speed and realistic shading. The algorithm has been successfully employed in planning reconstructive bone surgery, in assessment of both congenital and acquired heart disease, and in studies of normal and pathological lung physiology. Examples which illustrate the versatility and speed of the new algorithm are presented.