Accurate volume estimation in positron emission tomography (PET) is crucial for different oncology applications. The objective of our study was to develop a new fuzzy locally adaptive Bayesian (FLAB) segmentation for automatic lesion volume delineation. FLAB was compared with a threshold approach as well as the previously proposed fuzzy hidden Markov chains (FHMC) and the fuzzy C-Means (FCM) algorithms. The performance of the algorithms was assessed on acquired datasets of the IEC phantom, covering a range of spherical lesion sizes (10-37 mm), contrast ratios (4:1 and 8:1), noise levels (1, 2, and 5 min acquisitions), and voxel sizes (8 and 64 mm(3)). In addition, the performance of the FLAB model was assessed on realistic nonuniform and nonspherical volumes simulated from patient lesions. Results show that FLAB performs better than the other methodologies, particularly for smaller objects. The volume error was 5%-15% for the different sphere sizes (down to 13 mm), contrast and image qualities considered, with a high reproducibility (variation < 4%). By comparison, the thresholding results were greatly dependent on image contrast and noise, whereas FCM results were less dependent on noise but consistently failed to segment lesions < 2 cm. In addition, FLAB performed consistently better for lesions < 2 cm in comparison to the FHMC algorithm. Finally the FLAB model provided errors less than 10% for nonspherical lesions with inhomogeneous activity distributions. Future developments will concentrate on an extension of FLAB in order to allow the segmentation of separate activity distribution regions within the same functional volume as well as a robustness study with respect to different scanners and reconstruction algorithms.