A distributed image archiving expert system (DIAES) is introduced to improve the response time of a multilevel storage system and to support real-time picture archiving and communication systems (PACSs). DIAES provides efficient schemes for image retrieval, storage, and organization by means of techniques offered by distributed artificial intelligence (DAI). With DIAES, declarative (i.e., image description) and procedural (i.e., heuristics for selecting the right images, predicting the images that will be requested next, and calculating the 'connection force' between images) knowledge are both integrated into a hierarchical, entity-based knowledge management scheme, termed a frames and rules associated system entity structure (FRASES). By interpreting the built-in knowledge, DIAES predicts images which have higher probability of being retrieved next and archives these images to the upper (or top) level storage devices. This, in turn, reduces the possibility of accessing images located on the lower level storage devices and improves the response time.