Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the basal ganglia, which may be visualized by single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) in combination with the cocaine analog methyl-3-beta-(4-beta[123I]iodophenyl)tropane-2beta-carboxylate ([123I]beta-CIT). The aim of our study was to correlate findings of SPECT with clinical data of 34 previously untreated, idiopathic parkinsonian patients [age: 59.58+/-10.03 (mean+/-SD) years; Hoehn and Yahr Scale (HYS) mean range: 1.97+/-0.83, ranges I-III; Unified PD Rating Scale 3.0 (UPDRS, 30.64+/-18.68) and 15 healthy controls (age 47.93+/-10.47 years). SPECT scans were performed with a single-head gamma-camera 24 h after intravenous injection of [123I]beta-CIT. Comparison of the striatum/cerebellum (S/C) ratio of [123I]beta-CIT uptake of controls and parkinsonian subjects, subdivided according to their HYS range, was significant. No influence of age or sex was observed. Significant correlations were found between scores of the HYS, UPDRS parts I-III, part II, part III, and the S/C ratio of [123I]-CIT uptake. Moreover, SPECT with the radiotracer [123I]beta-CIT revealed side-to-side differences in parkinsonian patients and significant associations to contralateral clinical extrapyramidal symptomatology. Our data show that SPECT with [123I]beta-CIT is a valuable tool for estimating disease severity in PD.