A conventional multislice positron emission tomography scanner was modified to operate without interplane septa to evaluate its performance in collecting and reconstructing data in a three-dimensional (3D) format, thereby significantly increasing system sensitivity. A 3D filtered backprojection algorithm was implemented and tested, using both computer simulations and phantom measurements. No artifacts were apparent in the test images, although the algorithm was shown to lead to a 11% degradation in transaxial resolution in the outer planes. Following septa removal, sensitivity was found to increase by a factor of 7 with an increase in scatter fraction from 16 to 41%. Axial resolution degraded from 6.9 to 7.7 mm full width at half maximum at the center of the field of view. The maximum count rate without septa was 2.4 x 10(5) cps, at a concentration of 0.4 microCi/ml, compared with 1.3 x 10(5) cps at 1.5 microCi/ml with septa. Brain studies were performed with volunteers using 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose, 18F-fluorodopa, and H2 15O to compare noise-equivalent count rates and qualitatively assess image quality over a wide range of imaging conditions.