Abstract An experimental system was developed to acquire and visualise in real-time two-dimensional (2-D) velocity maps. Data acquisition is performed by using a modified commercial echograph based on a 5-MHz, 128-element linear-array transducer with electronic focussing and beam steering. Additional electronics were integrated into the echograph to implement a 2-D Doppler system capable of measuring the velocity component on the scanning plane. Suitable axial and lateral scanning methods were studied to obtain Doppler measurements over a scanning area. A colour image of the estimated velocity field is presented in real time on a personal computer using different visualisation techniques. The system performance was tested experimentally both in vitro and in vivo on a human carotid artery.