We investigated the potential of carbon-11 choline positron emission tomography (PET) for the detection of lymph node and bone metastases in prostate cancer. A total of 23 patients were studied (known metastases: 8; suspicion of metastases: 3; primary staging: 12). Whole-body PET imaging was performed 5 min after injection of the tracer and completed within 1 h. Focally increased tracer uptake in bone or abdominal lymph node regions was interpreted as representing tumour involvement. All known bone and lymph node metastases could be recognized by [11C]choline PET. One out of ten negative scans for primary staging was false-negative (lymph node <1 cm) and one out of two positive scans was false-positive with regard to lymph node involvement (focal bowel activity). It is concluded that [11C]choline PET is a promising new tool for the primary staging of prostate cancer, with lymph node and bone metastases demonstrating high tracer uptake. Therapeutic management could be influenced by these results in that the technique may permit avoidance of surgical lymph node exploration.