Research on the digital visible human is of great significance and has considerable application value. The US visible human project created the first digital image dataset of a complete human (one male and one female) in 1995. To promote worldwide application-oriented visible human research, additional visible human datasets, representative of different populations of the world, are needed. The Chinese visible human (CVH) male (created in October 2002) and female (created in February 2003) Project achieved greater integrity of images, better blood vessel identification, and were free of organic disease. The most noteworthy technical advance of the Chinese visible human project (CVHP) was the construction of a low temperature laboratory, which prevented loss of small structures (including teeth, nasal conchae, and articular cartilage) from the milling surface. Thus, better integrity of images was achieved. To date, we have acquired five CVH datasets and volume rendered them for visualization on a PC. 3D reconstruction of some organs and structures has been completed and work to segment a complete dataset is under way. Although there is still a long way to go to make the visible human meet the application-oriented needs in various fields, progress is being made toward acquiring new datasets, performing segmentation, and setting up a platform of computer-assisted medicine. Here, we review the history and highlights of the CVHP and foresee its future development as well. (c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.