Abstract Background Three-dimensional (3-D) visualization of multimodality neuroimaging data provides a powerful technique for viewing the relationship between structure and function. A number of applications are available that include some aspect of 3-D visualization, including both free and commercial products. These applications range from highly specific programs for a single modality, to general purpose toolkits that include many image processing functions in addition to visualization. However, few if any of these combine both stand-alone and remote multi-modality visualization in an open source, portable and extensible tool that is easy to install and use, yet can be included as a component of a larger information system. Results We have developed a new open source multimodality 3-D visualization application, called MindSeer, that has these features: integrated and interactive 3-D volume and surface visualization, Java and Java3D for true cross-platform portability, one-click installation and startup, integrated data management to help organize large studies, extensibility through plugins, transparent remote visualization, and the ability to be integrated into larger information management systems. We describe the design and implementation of the system, as well as several case studies that demonstrate its utility. These case studies are available as tutorials or demos on the associated website: http://sig.biostr.washington.edu/projects/MindSeer. Conclusion MindSeer provides a powerful visualization tool for multimodality neuroimaging data. Its architecture and unique features also allow it to be extended into other visualization domains within biomedicine.