A number of authors have indicated a more sensitive detection of renal cortical defects using single photon emission tomography (SPET) compared with planar imaging when performing 99Tcm-dimer-captosuccinic acid (99Tcm-DMSA) renal scintigraphy. The place of SPET in the evaluation of kidneys in adults suspected of acute pyelonephritis (APN) remains controversial, however. The aim of this study was to address the role of SPET in adult patients suspected of having APN. Planar and SPET 99Tcm-DMSA renal imaging was performed in 53 patients. The data sets were separated and presented in random order to three independent observers. The kidneys were divided into three segments, which were classified as normal, definitely abnormal or equivocal. Ir. a second step, the number of lesions (definite or equivocal) on planar and SPET imaging were counted. The overall concordance between the planar and SPET imaging scores was 90.9, 89.9 and 87.7% for the three observers, respectively. Inter-observer discordance was recorded in a small percentage of both planar and SPET images. The number of lesions, based on the average of the three observers, was 22 for planar and 25 for SPET imaging. Obvious differences between observers were noted. The planar images were more often interpreted as equivocal by the least experienced observer. The more experienced observers gained limited additional information using SPET routinely. Most equivocal lesions on the planar scintigrams were observed in the lower segment. For SPET, no such distribution was noted. High-quality 99Tcm-DMSA images allow the detection of the same number of lesions as SPET in adults suspected of APN.