The cephalogram is the standard used by orthodontists to assess skeletal, dental, and soft tissue relationships. This approach, however, is based on 2-dimensional (2D) views used to analyze 3-dimensional (3D) objects. The purpose of this project was to evaluate and compare a 3D imaging system and traditional 2D cephalometry for accuracy in recording the anatomical truth as defined by physical measurements with a calibrated caliper. Thirteen skeletal landmarks were located by both radiographic methods on 9 dry human skulls. Intraclass correlation (0.995), variance (0.054 mm2), and standard deviation (SD) (0.237 mm) were averaged over 76 measurements and derived from precision calipers to establish these physical measurements as a reliable gold standard to make comparisons of the 2D and 3D radiographic methods. The results showed great variability of the 2D from the gold standard, with the range varying from -17.68 mm (underestimation of Gn-Zyg R) to +15.52 mm (overestimation of Zyg L-Zyg R). In contrast, the 3D method (Sculptor, Glendora, Calif) indicated a range of the SD from -3.99 (underestimation) mm to +2.96 mm (overestimation). The 3D evaluation was much more precise, within approximately 1 mm of the gold standard. These results indicate that, when the actual distance is measured on a human skull in its true dimensions of 3D space, the Sculptor program, by using a 3D method, is more precise and 4 to 5 times more accurate than the 2D approach. Evaluating distances in 3D space with a 2D image grossly exaggerates the true measure and offers a distorted view of craniofacial growth. There is an inherent problem of representing a linear measure occupying a 3D space with a 2D image.