Positron-emission tomography (PET) with 18-fluorodeoxyglucose has a role in the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer, but is also appealing for assessment of prognosis and treatment. A systematic search of the published work shows good evidence that [(18)F]FDG uptake on PET has independent prognostic value in newly diagnosed non-small-cell lung cancer. PET is a sensitive method of measuring the biological effects of anticancer therapy, but until better standardisation and large-scale experience is available, it should only be used for additional assessments of early response in clinical trials. Further studies are needed to define the role of [(18)F]FDG-PET in restaging after induction therapy in multimodality approaches for locally advanced lung cancer. The assessment of prognosis by [(18)F]FDG-PET is less substantiated in treated lung cancer than in newly diagnosed patients. Good prospective evidence documents the effectiveness of [(18)F]FDG-PET over CT in the correct identification of recurrent lung cancer.