AIM: Non-invasive measurements of arterial diameter and wall thickness are critical in characterizing the onset and development of vascular disease. A precise dynamic method was proposed and tested for this purpose. DESIGN: A non-invasive method of measuring the variations in diameter and thickness of human arteries throughout the cardiac cycle was developed, using a high-precision ultrasonic echo-tracking system. An adaptive filtering technique was used to suppress artefacts caused by the layered tissue structure of the vessel wall. RESULTS: Based on decorrelation of microstructure noise, this technique improved the detectability of the wall interfaces, which allowed a determination of thickness and diameter. The accuracy and reproducibility of the method were tested by measurements of plastic films with known thicknesses. The discrepancies between standard micrometer and pulse-echo measurement were consistently less than 5 microns for film thicknesses ranging from 220 to 800 microns. The difference between two successive measurements was less than 2 microns. The identity of the measured vascular interfaces was checked in two ways. First, experiments on fixed bovine carotid arteries showed that the identified echogenic interfaces corresponded to the actual anatomical structure, as obtained by acoustic microscopy. Second, the radial artery thickness and diameter were extrapolated to obtain the change in wall volume over one cardiac cycle. The volume was found to be nearly constant, indicating incompressibility. CONCLUSION: This method will make it possible to obtain new information on atherogenesis and other vascular diseases.