The demonstration and accurate localization of intracerebral mass lesions are commonly performed with computerized tomography (CT), which often cannot determine the nature of the lesion. As an aid in the differential diagnosis between brain abscess and neoplasm, the authors have evaluated both 99mTc-hexamethylpropyleneamine oxime (99mTc-HMPAO) leukocyte scintigraphy and the serum C-reactive protein level. Of 23 patients with intracranial mass lesions, 22 individuals showed ring-like contrast enhancement on CT scans; the one exception was a patient treated for a meningioma who had a negative CT scan despite clinical suspicion of intra- or extracranial abscess. The final diagnosis was invariably established by microscopic examination of tissue specimens. In 10 patients the final diagnosis was brain abscess; the other 13 patients harbored a brain neoplasm (glioma in nine, astrocytoma in one, and metastasis in three). The 99mTc-HMPAO leukocyte scintigraphy detected all cases of abscess. There were no false-positive results. An elevated C-reactive protein level (> 13 mg/liter) was found in all but one patient with abscess and in three patients with neoplasm; two of these three patients had dental root infections which could account for the elevation of C-reactive protein. It is concluded that 99mTc-HMPAO leukocyte scintigraphy should be performed when there is a possibility that a brain abscess may exist. Any steroid treatment should be discontinued for 48 hours prior to leukocyte scintigraphy. Also, C-reactive protein determination should be performed and is useful even when steroids are given.