Thirty-one patients with intracranial metastases were examined with positron emission tomography (PET) using 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) as a tracer. The PET study was prompted by growth of the tumor in spite of therapy, or regrowth after an initially favorable response. Increased accumulation of FDG was seen in 14 patients (group 1) and decreased in 17 (group 2). Patients in group 1 had verified tumor growth in 9 of 14 cases. The median survival after radiosurgery was 12.3 months. One patient in this group is still alive after open surgery of a recurrent metastasis. Six patients in group 2 are still alive. The median survival after radiosurgery was 19.9 months. Verified radiation reaction/necrosis was found in 5/17 and viable tumor tissue in 2. The survival time in group 2 was significantly longer than in group 1. PET is superior to computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging in the differentiation between recurrence and radiation reaction/necrosis. However, temporary radiation effects may mask remaining tumor tissue, and repeat PET studies may sometimes be necessary.