Active shape models (ASMs) have been studied extensively for the statistical analysis of three-dimensional shapes. These models can be used as prior information for segmentation and other image analysis tasks. In order to create an ASM, correspondence between surface points on the training shapes must be provided. Various groups have previously investigated methods that attempted to provide correspondences between points on pre-segmented shapes. This requires a time-consuming segmentation stage before the statistical analysis can be performed. This paper presents a method of ASM generation that requires as input only a single segmented template shape obtained from a mean grayscale image across the training set. The triangulated mesh representing this template shape is then propagated to the other shapes in the training set by a nonrigid transformation. The appropriate transformation is determined by intensity-based nonrigid registration of the corresponding grayscale images. Following the transformation of the template, the mesh is treated as an active surface, and evolves towards the image edges while preserving certain curvature constraints. This process results in automatic segmentation of each shape, but more importantly also provides an automatic correspondence between the points on each shape. The resulting meshes are aligned using Procrustes analysis, and a principal component analysis is performed to produce the statistical model. For demonstration, a model of the lower cervical vertebrae (C6 and C7) was created. The resulting model is evaluated for accuracy, compactness, and generalization ability.