The purpose of this study was to develop methods for automatic 3D-segmentation and automatic quantification of vascular structures in CT angiographic studies, e.g., abdominal aortic aneurysms. Methods for segmentation were developed based on thresholding, maximum gradient, and second derivative techniques. All parameters for the segmentation are generated automatically, i.e. no user interaction is necessary for this process. Median filtering of all images is initially performed to reduce the image noise. The algorithm then automatically identifies the starting point inside the aorta for the volume growing. The segmentation of the vascular tree is achieved in two steps. First, only the aorta and small parts of branch vessels are segmented by using strong restrictions in the parameters for threshold and gradient. A description of the aorta is generated by fitting the detected outer border of the aorta with an ellipse. This description includes centerline, direction, contour, eccentricity, and area. In the second step, segmentation parameters are changed automatically for segmentation of branch vessels. A shaded surface display of the segmented structures is then generated. The segmentation of the aorta appears accurate, is fast, and the 3D display can be manipulated in real time. The quantitative description of the aorta is reliable giving reproducible information. Total CPU time for the segmentation and description is less than five minutes on a standard workstation. Time-consuming manual segmentation and parameterization of vascular structures are obviated, with 3D visualization and quantitative results available in minutes instead of hours. This technique for segmentation and description of the aorta and renal arteries shows the feasibility of computer assisted diagnosis in CT angiographic studies without user interaction. Besides the description, a rapid 3D view of the vessels is generated, often needed by the physician and normally only achievable by time consuming manual segmentation.