Biological research has been accelerated by the development of noninvasive imaging techniques and by use of genetically engineered mice to model human diseases and normal development. Because these mice can be expensive, noninvasive imaging techniques, such as high-resolution positron emission tomography (PET), that permit longitudinal studies of the same animals are very attractive. Such studies reduce the number of animals used, reduce intersubject variability, and improve the accuracy of biological models. PET provides quantitative measurements of the spatiotemporal distribution of radiotracers and is an extremely powerful tool in using molecular imaging to study biology, to monitor disease intervention, and to establish pharmacokinetics for new drugs. The design of animal PET scanners has improved significantly in the past decade and can provide adequate image resolution and sensitivity to study transgenic mice. This article reviews the fundamental and technical challenges of small-animal PET imaging, with a particular focus on the latest developments and future directions of detector technologies and system design.