Analysis of the Prospective Investigation of Pulmonary Embolism Diagnosis (PIOPED) and modified PIOPED studies has suggested that an experienced observer is capable of more accurate lung scan interpretation than the less experienced individual. This has been attributed to the use of unique Gestalt factors not contained in published diagnostic algorithms, which are acquired through extensive experience in reviewing and interpreting lung scans. How fully these factors can be codified and transmitted to less experienced observers is uncertain; however, there is a large body of published data that attempts to convey fine points of lung scan interpretation, including a large body of ancillary scintigraphic findings and a number of refinements in the application of diagnostic algorithms. Review of these factors will accelerate the training of less experienced readers. Finally, an understanding of lung scan language and an appreciation of clinically relevant factors, particularly pretest probability, will maximize the reader's ability to use the lung scan in managing patients who are suspected of having pulmonary embolic disease.