We describe an active contour based on the elliptical Fourier series, and its application to matrix-array ultrasound. Matrix-array ultrasound is a new medical imaging modality that scans a 3D-volume electronically without physically moving the transducer, allowing for real-time continuous 3D imaging of the heart. Unlike other 3D ultrasound modalities which physically move a linear array, matrix array ultrasound is rapid enough to capture an individual cardiac cycle, yielding a temporal resolution of 22 volumetric scans per second. With the goal of automatically tracking the heart wall, an active contour has been developed using the elliptical Fourier series to find perpendicular lines intersecting an initial contour. The neighborhood defined by these perpendiculars is mapped into a rectangular space, called the 1D swath, whose vertical axis represents the inside-vs.-outside dimension of the contour (along the perpendicular), and whose horizontal axis represents parametric distance along the contour (tangent to the contour). A dynamic programming technique is then used to find the optimum error function traversing the rectangle horizontally, and this error function is mapped back into image space to yield a new contour. The method does not iterate, but rather simultaneously searches for the optimum contour within a limited domain. Results are presented applying the technique to 3D ultrasound images of in vivo hearts.