To assess myocardial glucose metabolism and perfusion in 142 myocardial segments with defects seen at thallium-201 single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), 27 studies with positron emission tomography (PET) utilizing nitrogen-13 ammonia and fluorine-18 deoxyglucose were performed in 26 patients. Myocardial infarction was defined on the basis of concordant reductions in segmental perfusion and glucose utilization; myocardial ischemia, on the basis of preservation of glucose utilization (metabolic viability) in segments with hypoperfusion at rest. Of the 142 segments analyzed, 101 had fixed defects, 31 had partially reversible defects, and ten had completely reversible defects. Preserved glucose utilization was identified in 47 (46.5%) of the segments with fixed defects and 20 (64.5%) of the segments with partially reversible defects. Of the ten segments with completely reversible defects, five (50%) were normal, and five (50%) exhibited ischemia at PET. Visual improvement in a persistent thallium defect at delayed imaging was not associated with residual glucose metabolic activity. Thus, PET can be used to detect glucose metabolic activity in a significant proportion of myocardial segments with fixed or partially redistributing defects seen at thallium SPECT, which suggests that the extent of tissue viability in patients with ischemic heart disease is underestimated at thallium scintigraphy.