The validity domain of voxel-based statistical analysis of SPECT neuroactivation studies with statistical parametric mapping (SPM) has been investigated by a limited number of theoretical and simulation studies. In this work, an experimental setup is described with an assessment of its activation detection performance together with the influence of acquisition and processing parameters. A subresolution sandwich phantom was constructed using a printed high-resolution digital Hoffman phantom with a (99m)TcO(4)-ink mixture. Activations of 8, 16, and 24 mm diameter, with an intensity ranging from 5 to 60%, were constructed in the right frontal cortex, anterior and posterior cingulate, and left striatum. Triple-headed SPECT acquisitions were carried out using both fan-beam and parallel beam geometry. The impact of activation characteristics (size, intensity and location), study size, physical degradation factors, and reconstruction technique were studied using SPM99 in a group comparison design with correction for multiple comparisons. For a 15 x 15 design, all 24-mm activations of 5% intensity were detected for the fan-beam data. Decreased focus or study size, lower SPECT resolution, absence of scatter, and attenuation correction resulted in an increase in minimally detectable activation. For a single study referred to 15 control studies, only 24-mm activation foci with a minimal intensity of 10% were detected in the optimal configuration. This approach allows experimental parameter optimization of SPM-based group or single-subject SPECT activation studies compared to normal data, as used in clinical applications. In principle, these findings can be extended to SPECT receptor studies or PET data.