Mammograms made between 1981 and 1989 in the Nijmegen screening programme for breast cancer were retrospectively reviewed. Those made before detection of breast cancer showed signs of tumour growth in the place of the subsequently detected malignancy in 22% of the cases. A work station was set up for image digitization and image processing. Display with optimal contrast and image processing of mammograms is possible. Diagnoses based on digitized mammograms displayed on a monitor were as good as those based on the conventional images on film. Automatic detection of image features has been investigated. A procedure for automatic detection of microcalcifications was developed. This research is important for optimalization of diagnosis in screening and because of the expected introduction of direct digital imaging techniques.