Our PACS design consists of clusters of computerized devices. At the center of each cluster is an intelligent machine termed a cluster controller. A cluster controller performs the following tasks: (1) receives images from capture computers, (2) extracts descriptive text information describing the received studies, (3) updates a network-accessible database management system, (4) determines the destination workstations to forward the newly generated studies, (5) automatically retrieves necessary comparison images from a distributed optical archive, (6) automatically corrects the orientation of computed radiography images, (7) archives new studies onto optical disk, (8) deletes images stored on remote capture computers upon successful image archival, and (9) services archive retrieval requests from remote workstations and other cluster controllers. The cluster controller is the only class of PACS computers that must communicate with all other types of PACS nodes (acquisition, other cluster controllers, radiologist''s workstation, referring physician''s workstation, printing stations, and database servers). This paper presents details of the logical partitioning of computers into clusters and the central role of the cluster controller machines in image acquisition, image routing, optical archive management, and system reliability.