The incorporation of hyperspectral sensors aboard airborne/satellite platforms is currently producing a nearly continual stream of multidimensional image data, and this high data volume has soon introduced new processing challenges. The price paid for the wealth spatial and spectral information available from hyperspectral sensors is the enormous amounts of data that they generate. Several applications exist, however, where having the desired information calculated quickly enough for practical use is highly desirable. High computing performance of algorithm analysis is particularly important in homeland defense and security applications, in which swift decisions often involve detection of (sub-pixel) military targets (including hostile weaponry, camouflage, concealment, and decoys) or chemical/biological agents. In order to speed-up computational performance of hyperspectral imaging algorithms, this paper develops several fast parallel data processing techniques. Techniques include four classes of algorithms: (1) unsupervised classification, (2) spectral unmixing, and (3) automatic target recognition, and (4) onboard data compression. A massively parallel Beowulf cluster (Thunderhead) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland is used to measure parallel performance of the proposed algorithms. In order to explore the viability of developing onboard, real-time hyperspectral data compression algorithms, a Xilinx Virtex-II field programmable gate array (FPGA) is also used in experiments. Our quantitative and comparative assessment of parallel techniques and strategies may help image analysts in selection of parallel hyperspectral algorithms for specific applications.