A novel concept for characterizing the performance of cone-beam computerized tomography systems has been developed and its application to the evaluation of cone-beam algorithms is described. The new method consists of three steps. The first step is to determine the edge spread function (ESF) from an analysis of the edge profile for a simple reconstructed object like a uniform sphere or cylinder. The edge response is calculated for sets of points where linearity and spatial invariance hold. The second step is to calculate the line spread function (LSF) from the ESF, and the third step is to calculate the modulation transfer function (MTF) from the ESF. This method is amenable to automatic processing and is more useful to predict cone-beam algorithms and systems performance than other image quality measures which do not bear any relation to spatial resolution.