The evaluation and management of acute spondylolysis remains unclear in part because of outcome data that are primarily subjective. The aim of this study was to evaluate and monitor these patients objectively using quantitative single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Thirty-four patients were so observed clinically between 1987 and 1996 and were studied with an initial and at least one follow-up SPECT scintigram. Initial radiographs and planar bone scans failed to demonstrate the pars lesion in 53 and 19% of the patients, respectively. The average SPECT ratio before brace treatment was 1.45. After treatment, this ratio significantly decreased to 1.27 (p = 0.03). A subset of patients remained symptomatic at follow-up. Their reduction in SPECT ratio averaged only 2.8% as compared with 13% for the remainder of the patients (p = 0.01). Patients diagnosed and braced in the early, more active stage of the condition (with greater intensity on SPECT) had more predictable symptom relief. An initial SPECT ratio of >1.5 was associated with complete symptom resolution after brace treatment. Patients treated with activity restriction only (>3 months) before bracing were more likely to have persistent symptoms and more modest improvement on SPECT (p = 0.01). These data, which use SPECT scintigraphy, support prompt treatment with brace immobilization for acute spondylolysis in children and adolescents.