The aims of this study were to establish the percentage of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) lesions detected by radioimmunoscintigraphy (RIS) with the chimeric monoclonal antibody 131I-cG250 versus positron emission tomography (PET) with 18F-labelled deoxyglucose ([18F]FDG), and to evaluate the use of these radionuclide imaging modalities compared with routinely used imaging techniques. Twenty patients with metastatic RCC disease were examined with [18F]FDG-PET and 131I-cG250 RIS within 1 week. Total body gamma camera images were obtained up to 120h after injection of 232MBq 131I-cG250. Total body PET scanning was performed 45-60 min after intravenous injection of 370MBq [18F]FDG. Nuclear medicine techniques were compared to routine imaging procedures. Routine imaging modalities revealed a total of 79 metastases. [18F]FDG-PET and 131I-cG250 RIS detected 33 previously unknown metastases, of which 32 were [18F]FDG positive and seven were 131I-cG250 positive. Of the 112 tumour lesions that were documented, [18F]FDG-PET detected 69% (77 out of 112), whereas 131I-cG250 RIS detected only 30% (34 out of 112). In conclusion, [18F]FDG-PET is superior to 131I-cG250 RIS in detecting metastases in patients with metastatic RCC, and therefore seems a promising tool for (re)staging patients with RCC. The usefulness of RIS with a diagnostic dose of 131I-cG250 seems to be restricted to selecting patients for radioimmunotherapy with 131I-cG250.