A novel ultrasonic ring transducer and special control electronics have been developed for scattering and imaging studies. The transducer contains 2048 rectangular elements with a center frequency of 2.4 MHz and a -6-dB bandwidth of 70%. At the center frequency, the element size is 0.29 wavelength x40 wavelength and the spacing is 0.37 wavelength. A multiplexer provides access to any contiguous 128 elements for transmission and any contiguous 16 elements for simultaneous reception. The transmit electronics have independently programmable waveforms. The receive electronics have time-varied gain functions independently programmable over the range 15--55 dB. Each receive channel includes a 20-MHz, 12-bit A/D converter. The electronics permit synthesis of arbitrary transmit and receive apertures. A novel ultrasonic wavefront design method has been implemented to determine element excitations using backpropagation of a user-specified field pattern. Pulse-echo compound images using constant f/1.0 transmit and receive apertures have been obtained for model scattering objects and an anthropomorphic breast phantom. Scattering measurements have been analyzed to obtain frequency- and angle-dependent average differential scattering cross sections of random media. The system is a useful facility for measurements of ultrasonic scattering for characterization of tissue, development of adaptive beam-formation techniques, and implementation of quantitative image reconstruction methods.