Eight patients with small gliomas (6 low-grade and 2 high-grade) localized in a single gyrus or less than 2 cm diameter were investigated using positron tomography and single photon emission computed tomography. All three tumors examined demonstrated hypermetabolism of amino acids. High-grade gliomas demonstrated hypermetabolism of glucose and high blood flow, but normal or low oxygen metabolism. High-grade gliomas also showed accumulation of [sup 201]Tl chloride and high or low accumulation of [sup 123]I-isopropyl iodoamphetamine. These indications allow preoperative diagnosis of the malignancy of small gliomas, which is important because small gliomas with high-grade malignancy need more extensive removal and adjuvant therapy. (author).