The standardized uptake value (SUV) has gained recognition in recent years as a semiquantitative evaluation parameter in positron emission tomography (PET) studies. However, there is as yet no consensus on the way in which this index should be determined. One of the confusing factors is the normalisation procedure. Among the proposed anthropometric parameters for normalisation is lean body mass (LBM); LBM has been determined by using a predictive equation in most if not all of the studies. In the present study, we assessed the degree of agreement of various LBM predictive equations with a reference method. Secondly, we evaluated the impact of predicted LBM values on a hypothetical value of 2.5 SUV, normalised to LBM (SUVLBM), by using various equations. The study population consisted of 153 women, aged 32.3 +/- 11.8 years (mean +/- SD), with a height of 1.61 +/- 0.06 m, a weight of 71.1 +/- 17.5 kg, a body surface area of 1.77 +/- 0.22 m(2) and a body mass index of 27.6 +/- 6.9 kg/m(2). LBM (44.2 +/- 6.6 kg) was measured by a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) method. A total of nine equations from the literature were evaluated, four of them from recent PET studies. Although there was significant correlation between predicted and measured LBM values, 95% limits of agreement determined by the Bland and Altman method showed a wide range of variation in predicted LBM values as compared with DEXA, no matter which predictive equation was used. Moreover, only one predictive equation was not statistically different in the comparison of means (DEXA and predicted LBM values). It was also shown that the predictive equations used in this study yield a wide range of SUVLBM values from 1.78 to 5.16 (29% less or 107% more) for an SUV of 2.5. In conclusion, this study suggests that estimation of LBM by use of a predictive equation may cause substantial error for an individual, and that if LBM is chosen for the SUV normalisation procedure, it should be measured, not predicted.