Referral patterns from internists to departments of nuclear medicine or radiology are important determinants of whether adrenal glands are imaged by computed tomography (CT) or by radioisotope scintigraphy. To assist clinicians in making an informed choice, computed tomographic scans were compared with isotope scintigrams using 131I-19-iodocholesterol (19-IC) and 131I-6 beta-iodomethyl-19-norcholesterol (NP-59). In general, imaging techniques serve to localize diseases that are diagnosed on the basis of biochemical tests of adrenal function. Computed tomographic scanning and NP-59 scanning are of comparable diagnostic accuracy. Both are superior to 19-IC scanning in the diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome and primary aldosteronism. Computed tomographic scanning is faster and less expensive, and involves lower radiation doses to the patient than scintigraphy. Adrenocortical isotope scanning as a routine procedure has been superseded by computed tomographic scanning at the Mayo Clinic.