This paper presents the initial results of the Algorithm Performance Contest that was organized as part of the 5th IAPR Workshop on Pattern Recognition in Remote Sensing (PRRS 2008). The focus of the 2008 contest was automatic building detection and digital surface model (DSM) extraction. A QuickBird data set With manual ground truth was used for building detection evaluation, and a stereo Ikonos data set with a highly accurate reference DSM was used for DSM extraction evaluation. Nine submissions were received for the building detection task, and three submissions were received for the DSM extraction task. We provide an overview of the data sets, the summaries of the methods used for the submissions, the details of the evaluation criteria, and the results of the initial evaluation.