To produce, for example, the radio-isotope [(11)C]raclopride (used to study striatal dopamine D2 receptors), protons are accelerated by a cyclotron to hit a target of nitrogen gas. The nuclear reaction produces [ (11)C]carbon dioxide ((11)CO2). (11)CO2 is converted to [(11)C]iodomethane which is then used to label a raclopride precursor to form [(11)C]raclopride. This radiosynthesis procedure requires rapid automated synthetic chemistry facilities. Following quality control procedures, to estimate specific activity and chemical purity, [(11)C]raclopride is injected intravenously into subjects lying in the PET camera ( Plate. 3). Importantly, the total mass of radiotracer injected is very small (typically less than 5 pg) and therefore the radiotracer has no pharmacological effect itself.

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