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This article presents a detailed description of an algorithm for the automatic detection of the mid-sagittal plane in three-dimensional (3-D) brain images. The algorithm seeks the plane with respect to which the image exhibits maximum symmetry. For a given plane, symmetry is measured by the cross-correlation between the image sections lying on either side. The search for the plane of maximum symmetry is performed by using a multiresolution approach which substantially decreases computational time. The choice of the starting plane was found to be an important issue in optimization. A method for selecting the initial plane is presented. The algorithm has been tested on brain images from various imaging modalities in both humans and animals. Results were evaluated by visual inspection by neuroradiologists and were judged to be consistently correct.