Recent advances in three-dimensional (3D) imaging techniques have expanded the scope of applications of volume visualization to many areas such as medical imaging, scientific visualization, robotic vision, and virtual reality. Advanced image filtering, enhancement, and analysis techniques are being developed in parallel in the field of digital image processing. Although the fields cited have many aspects in common, it appears that many of the latest developments in image processing are not being applied to the fullest extent possible in visualization. It is common to encounter the use of rather simple and elementary image pre- processing operations being used in visualization and 3D imaging applications. The purpose of this paper is to present an overview of selected topics from recent developments in adaptive image processing and demonstrate or suggest their applications in volume visualization. The techniques include adaptive noise removal; improvement of contrast and visibility of objects; space-variant deblurring and restoration; segmentation-based lossless coding for data compression; and perception-based measures for analysis, enhancement, and rendering. The techniques share the common base of identification of adaptive regions by region growing, which lends them a perceptual basis related to the human visual system. Preliminary results obtained with some of the techniques implemented so far are used to illustrate the concepts involved, and to indicate potential performance capabilities of the methods.