Two-thirds of patients with metastatic cancer suffer from pain. Pain originating from skeletal metastases is the most common form of cancer-related pain. Bone pain, often exacerbated by pressure or movement, limits the patient's autonomy and social life. Pain palliation with bone-seeking radiopharmaceuticals has proven to be an effective treatment modality in patients with metastatic bone pain. These bone-seeking radiopharmaceuticals are extremely powerful in treating scattered painful bone metastases, for which external beam radiotherapy is impossible because of the large field of irradiation. (186)Re-hydroxyethylidene diphosphonate (HEDP) is a potentially useful radiopharmaceutical for this purpose, having numerous advantageous characteristics. Bone marrow toxicity is limited and reversible, which makes repetitive treatment safe. Studies have shown encouraging clinical results of palliative therapy using (186)Re-HEDP, with an overall response rate of ca. 70% in painful bone metastases. It is effective for fast palliation of painful bone metastases from various tumours and the effect tends to last longer if patients are treated early in the course of their disease. (186)Re-HEDP is at least as effective in breast cancer patients with painful bone metastases as in patients with metastatic prostate cancer. It is to be preferred to radiopharmaceuticals with a long physical half-life in this group of patients, who tend to have more extensive haematological toxicity since they have frequently been pretreated with bone marrow suppressive chemotherapy. This systemic form of radionuclide therapy is simple to administer and complements other treatment options. It has been associated with marked pain reduction, improved mobility in many patients, reduced dependence on analgesics, and improved performance status and quality of life.