About half of the populations of many countries live in rural areas and in these countries about half of the rural hospitals do not have X-ray services. Among the reasons for such a deficiency are the high cost and sophistication of radiological equipment, requiring fully trained technicians, and the high standard required for a radiologist's training, none of which a rural hospital can afford. Simplified equipment makes it possible for locally recruited auxiliary personnel to obtain radiographs of consistently acceptable quality after a short training period. The training of physicians in radiographic interpretation could also be abbreviated if it were directed at a limited range of basic X-ray examinations that provide essential diagnostic information in most clinical conditions. The activities of the World Health Organization in these areas is discussed.