The authors assessed whether breast cancers can be detected by means of positron emission tomography (PET) with the positron-emitter-labeled glucose analogue 2-[fluorine-18]-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG). In 12 patients with primary and/or metastatic breast cancer, PET images of F-18 distribution in vivo were obtained approximately 1 hour after intravenous injection of 10 mCi of FDG. Scan findings were correlated with other imaging data and physical examination and biopsy results. Ten of 10 primary breast cancers were imaged by means of FDG PET with a tumor:background FDG uptake ratio of 8.1 (median). Ten of 10 bone metastases were imaged with a tumor:normal bone uptake ratio of 6.05 (median). Five of five known soft-tissue metastases and four previously unsuspected nodal lesions were found with PET. No false-positive foci of FDG uptake were demonstrated. In two cases with negative mammograms due to dense breast parenchyma, FDG PET clearly delineated the primary tumors. These preliminary data demonstrate the feasibility and substantial potential of PET scanning with FDG to detect and localize both primary and metastatic breast cancers.