Sentinel node staging for breast cancer is increasingly used in place of axillary lymph node dissection but is not yet universally accepted. The problems of non-standardized methodologies and lack of consensus on the optimum techniques to identify sentinel nodes are being addressed. Complementary use of radionuclide imaging before surgery, intraoperative probe detection, and blue dye have yielded the best reported sensitivities for finding a sentinel node (94%). The importance of imaging is summarized as identifying sentinel node(s), distinguishing sentinel from secondary nodes, guiding surgical incision planning, and facilitating lower doses. The learning curve phenomenon, which applies to the surgeon and the nuclear medicine physician, has been recognized; measures to minimize it are being implemented. Radiation exposure to operating room and pathology personnel is very low; estimates of exposure to the surgeon's hands are 0.2% of the annual whole body dose received by every human being from natural background and cosmic sources.