A prototype digital unit dedicated to chest radiography was used to examine 50 selected patients for a comparison study of the capability of digital images and conventional chest radiographs to reveal normal anatomic structures and a variety of pathologic states. The images in both modes were submitted for interpretation to seven experienced radiologists and a standardized questionnaire completed for each. Visibility of seven anatomic structures in the mediastinum was consistently better on the digital images than on the conventional radiographs. With minor exceptions, pathologic states were equally well seen in the two systems. Despite the less familiar viewing format of the digital images, the mean confidence levels achieved were higher than for those on the conventional radiographs; this difference was statistically significant both for normal anatomic structures (p = 0.001) and pathologic states (p = 0.01). The advantages and disadvantages of the digital technique are discussed.