The intensive care unit (ICU) is one application where significant benefit is expected from the use of digital technology in the acquisition, management and presentation of images. However, the potential benefits should not be outweighed by disadvantages of current digital technology. One of the bottlenecks is the efficiency of image viewing using a workstation, especially if this viewing station is implemented using affordable commonly available hardware. In this paper we describe the design concepts of a relatively low-cost but efficient viewing station for chest images, and discuss clinical experience with this system at an ICU ward. The user interface has been optimized towards the specific patterns of ICU image viewing. By anticipating user requests and preparing images during idle times of the computer, the mean image access time could be reduced by a factor of 4, while most images could be presented instantaneously. Information from the hospital information system (HIS) is exploited in the user interface, and a simplified PAC-HIS coupling has been implemented for the simultaneous presentation of images and reports.