Picture archive and communications (PACS) systems should be flexible and modular in design so that new advances in storage, computation, and display technology can be introduced into the system without a significant redesign of existing software. The acquisition, storage, and management of radiologic images must be carefully integrated with a radiology information system. Our architecture is based on a four-level data model: (1) patient information, (2) examination information and reports, (3) image information, and (4) instances of images. The PACS being developed at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology within the Electronic Radiology Laboratory consists of three primary components: application clients, database servers and image servers. One type of application client is an image-capable workstation that supports a radiology image viewing application. The application client queries the database server for information regarding patient and examination data in response to user-level requests. The database server responds to the request by retrieving the appropriate patient demographics and examination information, along with a pointer to the image/instance data from a central database. The client then uses the image data pointer to query the image server for the actual pixel data. The image server responds by transmitting the pixel data to the requesting application client or a designated auxiliary display device. Other clients act as image data acquisition nodes. Queries to the database servers are made via a library of callable subroutines. Software integrity is maintained throughout the system by dynamically loading software from a code-control database. Inquiry and display transactions, supported on a local-area network (Ethernet), have been measured and analyzed. Results and observations are presented.