The ECAT high resolution research tomograph (HRRT) is a dedicated brain and small animal PET scanner, with design features that enable high image spatial resolution combined with high sensitivity. The HRRT is the first commercially available scanner that utilizes a double layer of LSO/LYSO crystals to achieve photon detection with depth-of-interaction information. In this study, the performance of the commercial LSO/LYSO HRRT was characterized, using the NEMA protocol as a guideline. Besides measurement of spatial resolution, energy resolution, sensitivity, scatter fraction, count rate performance, correction for attenuation and scatter, hot spot recovery and image quality, a clinical evaluation was performed by means of a HR+/HRRT human brain comparison study. Point source resolution varied across the field of view from approximately 2.3 to 3.2 mm (FWHM) in the transaxial direction and from 2.5 to 3.4 mm in the axial direction. Absolute line-source sensitivity ranged from 2.5 to 3.3% and the NEMA-2001 scatter fraction equalled 45%. Maximum NECR was 45 kcps and 148 kcps according to the NEMA-2001 and 1994 protocols, respectively. Attenuation and scatter correction led to a volume uniformity of 6.3% and a system uniformity of 3.1%. Reconstructed values deviated up to 15 and 8% in regions with high and low densities, respectively, which can possibly be assigned to inaccuracies in scatter estimation. Hot spot recovery ranged from 60 to 94% for spheres with diameters of 1 to 2.2 cm. A high quantitative agreement was met between HR+ and HRRT clinical data. In conclusion, the ECAT HRRT has excellent resolution and sensitivity properties, which is a crucial advantage in many research studies.