The intrinsic resolution, noise, and signal-to-noise transfer characteristics of five commercial digital computed radiography (CR) systems were compared using identical experimental methods. The reader/screen combinations evaluated were Agfa ADC-Compact/MD-10, Agfa ADC-Compact/MD-30, Agfa ADC-Solo/MD-10, Agfa ADC-Solo/MD-30, Lumisys CR-2000/MD-10, Fuji FCR-9501 (HQ)/ST-Va, Kodak CR-400/GP-25, and Kodak CR-400/HR. Measurements were made at 70 and 115 kVp with 19 mm added aluminum filtration. The presampled modulation transfer functions (MTFs) of the systems were measured using an edge method. The noise power spectra (NPS) were determined by 2D Fourier analysis of uniformly exposed radiographs. The frequency-dependent detective quantum efficiencies (DQEs) were computed from the MTF, NPS, exposure measurements, and computational estimates of the ideal signal-to-noise ratios. Using 70 kVp and 0.1-0.12 mm pixel sizes, spatial frequencies of 2.1, 2.0, 2.2, 1.9, 2.0, 2.0, 2.3, 2.3, and 3.5 cycles/mm were measured at 0.2 MTF for the eight reader/screen combinations, respectively. Using 70 kVp, 7.74 x 10(-8) C/kg (0.3 mR), and 0.1-0.12 mm pixel sizes, DQE(0.15) values of 20.3%, 22.9%, 24.6%, 28.6%, 22.2%, 30.0%, 29.5%, and 17.3% were obtained for the eight combinations, respectively. The corresponding values at 115 kVp were 15.9%, 18.5%, 21.5%, 21.8%, 15.3%, 23.1%, 22.3%, and 13.8%, respectively. The findings of the study demonstrate the pixel size, orientation, beam quality, screen, and reader dependencies of image quality in CR systems. The physical performance of the systems having standard-resolution screens demonstrated similar resolution performance but more notable variations in DQE. The one high-resolution screen tested had reduced DQE and increased MTF at high frequencies.