Seventeen cows with right displacement of the abomasum (rda) without abomasal volvulus, nine cows with abomasal volvulus and 10 clinically healthy cows were examined ultrasonographically. A 5·0 MHz transducer was used to scan the eighth to 12th intercostal spaces and the cranial and caudal aspects of the flank on the right side. The position, size and dorsal and ventral margins of the abomasum were determined at each imaging position. In both groups of diseased cows, the ventral abomasum contained fluid ingesta, which appeared hypoechogenic with diffuse echogenic stippling. The abomasal folds could be seen clearly as echogenic sickle-shaped structures within the ingesta. The dorsal abomasal gas cap varied in size and was characterised by reverberation artefacts, which appeared as echogenic lines running parallel to the body surface. Compared with the healthy cows, the abomasum was larger and located significantly closer to the midline of the dorsum in both groups of cows. Compared with the cows with rda, the abomasum in the cows with abomasal volvulus was significantly smaller in the eighth intercostal space and significantly larger in the 11th intercostal space. It was not possible to differentiate between rda and abomasal volvulus on the basis of the ultrasonographic findings.