Positron emission tomography (PET) was used to determine brain incorporation coefficients k* of [1-11C]arachidonate in isoflurane-anesthetized rhesus monkeys, as well as cerebral blood flow (CBF) using [15O]water. Intravenously injected [1-11C]arachidonate disappeared from plasma with a half-life of 1.1 min, whereas brain radioactivity reached a steady-state by 10 min. Mean values of k* were the same whether calculated by a single-time point method at 20 min after injection began, or by least-squares fitting of an equation for total brain radioactivity to data at all time points. k* equalled 1.1-1.2 x 10(-4) ml x s(-1) x g(-1) in gray matter and was unaffected by a 2.6-fold increase in CBF caused by hypercapnia. These results indicate that brain incorporation of [1-11C]arachidonate can be quantified in the primate using PET, and that incorporation is flow-independent.