Aortic elasticity is an important factor in hemodynamic health, and compromised aortic compliance affects not only arterial dynamics but also myocardial function. A variety of pathologic processes (e.g., diabetes, Marfan's syndrome, hypertension) can affect aortic elasticity by altering the microstructure and composition of the elastin and collagen fiber networks within the tunica media. Ultrasound tissue characterization techniques can be used to obtain direct measurements of the stiffness coefficients of aorta by measurement of the speed of sound in specific directions. In this study we sought to define the contributions of elastin and collagen to the mechanical properties of aortic media by measuring the magnitude and directional dependence of the speed of sound before and after selective isolation of either the collagen or elastin fiber matrix. Formalin-fixed porcine aortas were sectioned for insonification in the circumferential, longitudinal, or radial direction and examined using high-frequency (50 MHz) ultrasound microscopy. Isolation of the collagen or elastin fiber matrices was accomplished through treatment with NaOH or formic acid, respectively. The results suggest that elastin is the primary contributor to aortic medial stiffness in the unloaded state, and that there is relatively little anisotropy in the speed of sound or stiffness in the aortic wall.