In locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), the role of imaging becomes more and more critical in the management process. In this framework, molecular imaging techniques such as PET allow noninvasive assessment of a range of tumour biomarkers such as metabolism, hypoxia and proliferation, which can serve different purposes. First, in a pretreatment setting they can influence therapy selection strategies and target delineation for radiation therapy. Second, their predictive and/or prognostic value could help enhance the therapeutic ratio in the management of HNSCC. Third, treatment modification can be performed through the generation of a molecular-based heterogeneous dose distribution with dose escalation to the most resistant parts of the tumour, a concept known as dose painting. Fourth, they are increasingly becoming a tool for monitoring response to therapy. In this review, PET imaging biomarkers used in the routine management of HNSCC or under investigation are discussed.