BACKGROUND: The technique of stereolithography, which automatically fabricates models from X-ray computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data linked to computer-aided design programs, has been applied to the fabrication of scaffolds for tissue engineering. We previously reported on the application of stereolithography in scaffold fabrication of a trileaflet heart valve. In our current experiment we demonstrate a new technique for the fabrication of custom-made conduits for the potential replacement of a coarcted aortic segment. METHODS AND RESULTS: In this experiment the image data derived from a 12-year-old male patient with aortic coarctation scanned by MRI were processed by a computer-aided design program to reconstruct the aortic arch with isthmus stenosis three dimensionally. By defining the stenotic section and the adjacent normal vessel a custom-made nonstenotic descending aorta was reconstructed to replace the stenosed part. The rapid prototyping technique was used to establish stereolithographic models for fabricating biocompatible and biodegradable vascular scaffolds with the anatomic structure of the recalculated human descending aorta through a thermal processing technique. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that the re-creation and reproduction of complex vascular structures by computer-aided design techniques may be useful to fabricate custom-made polymeric scaffolds for the tissue engineering of living vascular prostheses.