Using positron emission tomography (PET), the regional cerebral metabolic rate of glucose consumption (rCMRGlc) was measured in 14 patients with Wilson's disease (WD) and 23 normal subjects. In WD patients, cerebellar, striatal and--to a lesser extent--cortical and thalamic rCMRGlc were significantly decreased compared with controls. Striatal rCMRGlc was significantly reduced in those 4 patients who had recently started decoppering therapy as compared with striatal rCMRGlc measured in those 10 patients with longer duration of medication. Caudate rCMRGlc correlated significantly with various signs of extrapyramidal dysfunction. Cerebellar, thalamic and cortical rCMRGlc correlated significantly with the severity of pyramidal signs. These data indicate that the PET measurement of rCMRGlc may be a useful tool to evaluate cerebral involvement in WD and to monitor the response to treatment.