Complex molecular signaling heralds the early stages of pathologies such as angiogenesis, inflammation, unstable atherosclerotic plaques, and areas of remote thrombi. In previous studies, acoustic enhancement of blood clot morphology was demonstrated with the use of a nongaseous, fibrin-targeted acoustic nanoparticle emulsion delivered to areas of thrombosis both in vitro and in vivo. In this study, a system was designed and constructed that allows visualization of the evolution of acoustic contrast enhancement. To evaluate the system, two targets were examined: avidin-complexed nitrocellulose membrane and human plasma clots. The time evolution of enhancement was visualized in 10-min increments for 1 h. A monotonic increase was observed in ultrasonic reflection enhancement from specially treated nitrocellulose membranes for targeted emulsions containing perfluorooctylbromide (1.30±0.3 dB) and for perfluorooctane (2.64±0.5 dB) within the first 60 min of imaging. In comparison, the inherently nonechogenic plasma clots showed a substantial increase of 12.0±0.9 dB when targeted with a perfluoro-octane emulsion. This study demonstrates the concept of molecular imaging and provides the first quantifiable time-evolution report of the binding of a site-targeted ultrasonic contrast agent. Moreover, with the incorporation of specific drug treatments into the nanoparticulate contrast agent, ultrasonic molecular imaging may yield reliable detection and quantification of nascent pathologies and facilitate targeted drug therapy. (C) 2000 Acoustical Society of America.