Ultrasound as a medical imaging modality offers the clinician a real-time of the anatomy of the internal organs/tissues, their movement, and flow noninvasively. One of the applications of ultrasound is to monitor fetal growth by measuring biparietal diameter (BPD) and head circumference (HC). We have been working on automatic detection of fetal head boundaries in ultrasound images. These detected boundaries are used to measure BPD and HC. The boundary detection algorithm is based on active contour models and takes 32 seconds on an external high-end workstation, SUN SparcStation 20/71. Our goal has been to make this tool available within an ultrasound machine and at the same time significantly improve its performance utilizing multimedia technology. With the advent of high- performance programmable digital signal processors (DSP), the software solution within an ultrasound machine instead of the traditional hardwired approach or requiring an external computer is now possible. We have integrated our boundary detection algorithm into a programmable ultrasound image processor (PUIP) that fits into a commercial ultrasound machine. The PUIP provides both the high computing power and flexibility needed to support computationally-intensive image processing algorithms within an ultrasound machine. According to our data analysis, BPD/HC measurements made on PUIP lie within the interobserver variability. Hence, the errors in the automated BPD/HC measurements using the algorithm are on the same order as the average interobserver differences. On PUIP, it takes 360 ms to measure the values of BPD/HC on one head image. When processing multiple head images in sequence, it takes 185 ms per image, thus enabling 5.4 BPD/HC measurements per second. Reduction in the overall execution time from 32 seconds to a fraction of a second and making this multimedia system available within an ultrasound machine will help this image processing algorithm and other computer-intensive imaging applications become a practical tool for the sonographers in the feature.