Real-time three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound (US) has attracted much more attention in medical researches because it provides interactive feedback to help clinicians acquire high-quality images as well as timely spatial information of the scanned area and hence is necessary in intraoperative ultrasound examinations. Plenty of publications have been declared to complete the real-time or near real-time visualization of 3D ultrasound using volumetric probes or the routinely used two-dimensional (2D) probes. So far, a review on how to design an interactive system with appropriate processing algorithms remains missing, resulting in the lack of systematic understanding of the relevant technology. In this article, previous and the latest work on designing a real-time or near real-time 3D ultrasound imaging system are reviewed. Specifically, the data acquisition techniques, reconstruction algorithms, volume rendering methods, and clinical applications are presented. Moreover, the advantages and disadvantages of state-of-the-art approaches are discussed in detail.