Quantitative positron emission tomography (PET) brain studies often require that the input function be measured, typically via arterial cannulation. Image-derived input function (IDIF) is an elegant and attractive noninvasive alternative to arterial sampling. However, IDIF is also a very challenging technique associated with several problems that must be overcome before it can be successfully implemented in clinical practice. As a result, IDIF is rarely used as a tool to reduce invasiveness in patients. The aim of the present review was to identify the methodological problems that hinder widespread use of IDIF in PET brain studies. We conclude that IDIF can be successfully implemented only with a minority of PET tracers. Even in those cases, it only rarely translates into a less-invasive procedure for the patient. Finally, we discuss some possible alternative methods for obtaining less-invasive input function.