The aim of this study was to examine the relationships between quantitative ultrasonographic image characteristics, histological attributes and cell proliferating ability of bovine antral follicles and corpora lutea (CL)
ex situ. Bovine ovaries (n = 30) from animals at various reproductive states (metoestrus‐early dioestrus, n = 8; mid‐dioestrus, n = 12; oestrous phase of peripubertal heifers, n = 6; and pregnancy, n = 4) were collected at the slaughterhouse. High‐resolution ultrasonographic images of the ovaries were obtained in the water bath, digitized and subjected to computerized image analyses. The analyses utilized line and spot techniques designed to determine pixel values of the follicular wall (the largest follicles >2 mm in diameter in each ovary) and CL, respectively. Individual ovarian structures were dissected and processed for histology and immunohistochemical detection of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). The mean follicular diameter was negatively correlated with total cell density ( r= −0.45, p < 0.05), granulosa layer thickness ( r= −0.67, p < 0.001) and the percentage of PCNA‐positive cells ( r= −0.57, p < 0.001). Numerical pixel values and heterogeneity of the follicular wall were positively correlated with total cell density ( r= 0.42, p < 0.05 and r= 0.62, p < 0.05; respectively), granulosa layer thickness (both r= 0.39, p < 0.05), and the percentage of PCNA‐positive cells ( r= 0.54, p < 0.01 and r= 0.69, p < 0.001, respectively). Estimates of cell density and proliferating cell index were not correlated with the ultrasonographic image attributes of CL. We conclude that follicular size and echotextural variables, as determined by computer‐assisted image analysis of ovaries ex situ, are reliable markers of the histophysiological properties of bovine antral follicles, but the ultrasonographic characteristics are not indicative of cell density and proliferation in the bovine CL.