[en] Despite advances in morphological imaging, some patients with lung cancer are found to have nonresectable disease at surgery or die of recurrence within yr of surgery. We performed a prospective study in 109 patients to compare the accuracy of whole-body positron emission tomography (PET) using fluorine-18 deoxyglucose (18FDG) and conventional imaging (CI) methods for the staging of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). When CI or PET study suggested metastatic disease, confirmation was obtained by biopsy or follow-up information. As compared to CI, 18FDG-PET correctly changed the N stage in 22 patients (33%) and the M stage in 15 patients (14%). For the detection of distant metastases, PET study showed five false-positive sites and no false-negative cases. Currently, the accuracy of PET in the detection of M stage is 96%. Our study shows that visual interpretation of whole-body fluorine-18 deoxyglucose-positron emission tomography images can improve the diagnostic accuracy in the staging of non-small cell lung cancer. Further experience is needed to establish if metabolic imaging would be a cost-effective tool in the future management of lung cancer.