With the advent of positron emission tomography (PET), studies on the human brain function and pathophysiology of brain damage have been extremely progressed. It is well-known that the basal ganglia plays an important role as one of the central nervous system involved in exercise regulation. More recently, the potential involvement of the basal ganglia in psychological processes, such as cognitive function, has been pointed out, receiving much attention. In spite of such a lot of studies, however, basal ganglia function remains unclear. This paper describes the relationships between PET findings and basal ganglia function. PET findings are discussed in relation to brain energy metabolism and striatal dopamine function. Pathophysiology of the basal ganglia are described in terms of the following diseases: Parkinson's disease, Parkinson's syndrome, progressive supranuclear palsy, Huntington's disease, and dystonia. Physiological backgrounds of the basal ganglia for PET images are also referred to. (N.K.) 75 refs.