Our objective was to compare a single-slice CT (SS-CT) scanner with a multi-slice CT (MS-CT) scanner in the depiction of osseous anatomic structures and fractures of the upper cervical spine. Two cervical spine specimens with artificial trauma were scanned with a SS-CT scanner (HighSpeed, CT/i, GE, Milwaukee, Wis.) by using various collimations (1, 3, 5 mm) and pitch factors (1, 1.5, 2, 3) and a four-slice helical CT scanner (LightSpeed, QX/i, GE, Milwaukee, Wis.) by using various table speeds ranging from 3.75 to 15 mm/rotation for a pitch of 0.75 and from 7.5 to 30 mm/rotation for a pitch of 1.5. Images were reconstructed with an interval of 1 mm. Sagittal and coronal multiplanar reconstructions of the primary and reconstructed data set were performed. For MS-CT a tube current resulting in equivalent image noise as with SS-CT was used. All images were judged by two observers using a 4-point scale. The best image quality for SS-CT was achieved with the smallest slice thickness (1 mm) and a pitch smaller than 2 resulting in a table speed of up to 2 mm per gantry rotation (4 points). A reduction of the slice thickness rather than of the table speed proved to be beneficial at MS-CT. Therefore, the optimal scan protocol in MS-CT included a slice thickness of 1.25 mm with a table speed of 7.5 mm/360° using a pitch of 1.5 (4 points), resulting in a faster scan time than when a pitch of 0.75 (4 points) was used. This study indicates that MS-CT could provide equivalent image quality at approximately four times the volume coverage speed of SS-CT.