BACKGROUND We evaluated the utility of 3-dimensional (3-D) ultrasound imaging for assessment of carotid artery stenosis, as compared with similar assessment via magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). METHODS Subjects comprised 58 patients with carotid stenosis who underwent both 3-D ultrasound imaging and MRA. We studied whether abnormal findings detected by ultrasound imaging could be diagnosed using MRA. Ultrasound images were generated using Voluson 730 Expert and Voluson E8. RESULTS The degree of stenosis was mild in 17, moderate in 16, and severe in 25 patients, according to ultrasound imaging. Stenosis could not be recognized using MRA in 4 of 17 patients diagnosed with mild stenosis using ultrasound imaging. Ultrasound imaging showed ulceration in 13 patients and mobile plaque in 6 patients. When assessing these patients, MRA showed ulceration in only 2 of 13 patients and did not detect mobile plaque in any of these 6 patients. Static 3-D B mode images demonstrated distributions of plaque, ulceration, and mobile plaque, and static 3-D flow images showed flow configuration as a total structure. Real-time 3-D B mode images demonstrated plaque and vessel movement. Carotid artery stenting was not selected for patients diagnosed with ulceration or mobile plaque. CONCLUSIONS Ultrasound imaging was necessary to detect mild stenosis, ulcerated plaque, or mobile plaque in comparison with MRA, and 3-D ultrasound imaging was useful to recognize carotid stenosis and flow pattern as a total structure by static and real-time 3-D demonstration. This information may contribute to surgical planning.