Regional cerebral blood flow was assessed in 19 patients with early idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) and 12 control subjects of similar age by single-photon emission tomography using technetium-99m hexamethylpropylene amine oxime (HMPAO). Of the patients with PD, seven were mildly demented and 15 presented with hemiparkinsonism. Mean HMPAO cortical or basal ganglia/cerebellum activity ratios were calculated. Mean cortical and regional uptake ratios in non-demented PD patients were not significantly different from values in the controls. In contrast, besides generalized cortical hypoperfusion, demented PD patients had significantly lower HMPAO uptake in the frontal and basal ganglia regions than non-demented patients. These observations support the hypothesis of impaired neuronal activity in both cortical and subcortical regions of the brain in demented PD patients. In hemiparkinsonian patients, the only asymmetrical finding was a relative hypoperfusion in the contralateral parietal region. This may be due to deafferentation of the thalamoparietal pathways. The lack of asymmetrical uptake in basal ganglia in our PD patients may be explained by their staging at the time of the investigation (stage I and II, Hoehn and Yahr scale).