Thousands of radical prostatectomies for prostate cancer are performed each year. Radical prostatectomy is a challenging procedure due to anatomical variability and the adjacency of critical structures, including the external urinary sphincter and neurovascular bundles that subserve erectile function. Because of this, there are significant risks of urinary incontinence and impotence following this procedure. Preoperative interaction with three-dimensional visualization of the important anatomical structures might allow the surgeon to understand important individual anatomical relationships of patients. Such understanding might decrease the rate of morbidities, especially for surgeons in training. Patient specific anatomic data can be obtained from preoperative 3D MRI diagnostic imaging examinations of the prostate gland utilizing endorectal coils and phased array multicoils. The volumes of the important structures can then be segmented using interactive image editing tools and then displayed using 3-D surface rendering algorithms on standard work stations. Anatomic relationships can be visualized using surface displays and 3-D colorwash and transparency to allow internal visualization of hidden structures. Preoperatively a surgeon and radiologist can interactively manipulate the 3-D visualizations. Important anatomical relationships can better be visualized and used to plan the surgery. Postoperatively the 3-D displays can be compared to actual surgical experience and pathologic data. Patients can then be followed to assess the incidence of morbidities. More advanced approaches to visualize these anatomical structures in support of surgical planning will be implemented on virtual reality (VR) display systems. Such realistic displays are `immersive,' and allow surgeons to simultaneously see and manipulate the anatomy, to plan the procedure and to rehearse it in a realistic way. Ultimately the VR systems will be implemented in the operating room (OR) to assist the surgeon in conducting the surgery. Such an implementation will bring to the OR all of the pre-surgical planning data and rehearsal experience in synchrony with the actual patient and operation to optimize the effectiveness and outcome of the procedure.