We evaluated the changes of tissue layer thickness in circumscribed superficial tissue areas with a 10-MHz A-mode and a 20-MHz B-mode ultrasound device under alterations in body posture and plasma volume to detect fluid shifts between the different compartments. In 20 male volunteers, we measured tissue thickness by A mode and corium and subcutis thickness by B at the forehead before and 30 min after three procedures: change from upright to supine position (P1); change from upright to 30°head-down-tilt position (P2); infusion of 10 ml/kg body wt of Ringer solution (P3). We found a significant correlation between baseline tissue thickness and the sum of corium and subcutis thicknesses (r = 0.75, P < 0.01). The changes of body posture and plasma volume resulted in significant increases of tissue thickness (P1, 2.9%; P2, 11.6%; P3, 5.8%) and corium thickness (P1, 4.7%; P2, 8.1%; P3, 9.1%) but not of the sum of chorium and subcutis thicknesses. We conclude that fluid shifts from the intravascular to the extravascular compartment are detectible by evaluating corium thickness with a B-mode, or more easily tissue thickness with an A-mode, ultrasound device.