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A novel technique for the selective detection of ultrasound contrast agents, called pulse inversion Doppler, has been developed. In this technique, a conventional Doppler or color Doppler pulse sequence is modified by inverting every second transmit pulse. Either conventional or harmonic Doppler processing is then performed on the received echoes. In the resulting Doppler spectra, Doppler shifts from linear and nonlinear scattering are separated into two distinct regions that can be analyzed separately or combined to estimate the ratio of nonlinear to linear scattering from a region of tissue. The maximum Doppler shift that can be detected is 1/2 the normal Nyquist limit. This has the advantage over conventional harmonic Doppler that it can function over the entire bandwidth of the echo signal, thus achieving superior spatial resolution in the Doppler image. In vitro measurements comparing flowing agent and cellulose particles suggest that pulse inversion Doppler can provide 3 to 10 dB more agent to tissue contrast than harmonic imaging with similar pulses. Similar measurements suggest that broadband pulse inversion Doppler can provide up to 16 dB more contrast than broadband conventional Doppler. Nonlinear propagation effects limit the maximum contrast obtainable with both harmonic and pulse inversion Doppler techniques.