The use of 131I doses of several mCi for scans can stun the thyrocytes and thyroid cancer cells, whereas the usual dose (300 microCi) of 123I does not. We compared the diagnostic accuracy of the 123I (300 microCi) scans and that of 131I (3-10 mCi) scans in 155 patients. The diagnostic accuracy of a 123I scan in detecting functioning thyroid remnant/metastasis was 89.5% (77/86 scans) and that of a 131I scan was 92.9% (39/42) in 6 week-postoperative patients (p = 0.750). For radioablation therapy follow-up patients, the diagnostic accuracy of 123I in determining presence or absence of functioning remnant or metastasis was 69.4% (25/36) and that of 131I was 92.5% (49/53) with a p value of 0.079. The success rates for complete ablation of functioning tissue after radioiodine therapy administered after diagnostic 123I and after 131I were 72% (34/47) and 56% (24/43), respectively, with a p value of 0.125. Our study indicates the following: 1) for the first postoperative evaluation, the diagnostic accuracy of the 123I scan was essentially equal to that of the 131I scan, and the success rate of radioablation therapy appears to be better than 123I scan; and 2) for postablation follow-up surveys, the 131I scan appears to be better but carries the risk of stunning the functioning cells.