Some medical applications rely on the use of colour in the diagnostic process, even when poor colour reproduction can affect diagnosis. In this paper, we investigate the effect colour distortion can have on assessment of livers for possible transplantation. We compare the diagnostic effects for the likely colour shifts when illuminant and camera remain uncalibrated or when a monitor is incorrectly calibrated. We describe methods that can result in accurate reproduction of image colour on visual displays and determine whether accurate colour reproduction is necessary for effective liver assessment. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.