The detection of viable myocardium or ischemically injured myocardium with a reversible impairment of contractile function remains clinically important but challenging. Detection of reversible dysfunction and distinction from irreversible tissue injury by positron emission tomography is based on identification of preserved or even enhanced glucose metabolism with F-18 2-fluoro 2-deoxyglucose. Regional patterns of myocardial glucose utilization and blood flow, defined as perfusion-metabolism mismatches or matches, on positron emission tomography in patients with chronic or even acute ischemic heart disease are highly accurate in predicting the functional outcome after interventional revascularization. Compared with thallium-201 redistribution scintigraphy, positron emission tomography appears to be diagnostically more accurate, especially in patients with severely impaired left ventricular function. While larger clinical trials are needed for further confirmation, positron emission tomography has already proved clinically useful for stratifying patients with poor left ventricular function to the most appropriate therapeutic approach.