Prodigious efforts and landmark discoveries have led toward significant advances in our understanding of atherosclerosis. Despite significant efforts, atherosclerosis continues globally to be a leading cause of mortality and reduced quality of life. With surges in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes, atherosclerosis is expected to have an even more pronounced impact upon the global burden of disease. It is imperative to develop strategies for the early detection of disease. Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging utilizing [(18)F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) may provide a non-invasive means of characterizing inflammatory activity within atherosclerotic plaque, thus serving as a surrogate biomarker for detecting vulnerable plaque. The aim of this review is to explore the rationale for performing FDG imaging, provide an overview into the mechanism of action, and summarize findings from the early application of FDG PET imaging in the clinical setting to evaluate vascular disease. Alternative imaging biomarkers and approaches are briefly discussed.