BACKGROUND: Locoregional lymph node metastasis is an important prognostic factor in patients with bladder cancer. Multimodal treatment, depending on preoperative stage, may improve survival. The standard imaging modalities for staging (computed tomography [CT] or magnetic resonance imaging [MRI]) have an accuracy range of 70-90% for lymph node staging. A more accurate preoperative diagnostic test could improve survival rates even more. OBJECTIVE: To determine whether the use of 2-deoxy-2 [F] fluoro-D-glucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) in combination with CT (FDG-PET/CT) can increase the reliability of preoperative lymph node staging in patients with nonmetastatic invasive bladder cancer (T2 or higher, M0) or recurrent high-risk superficial disease (T1G3 with or without Tis, M0). DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Fifty-one patients underwent a preoperative FDG-PET/CT between April 2004 and December 2007. Independent of the result for lymph node status, all patients underwent a radical cystectomy and an extended lymphadenectomy. The FDG-PET/CT and CT results were compared with the definitive pathologic results. MEASUREMENTS: Among the 51 patients, 13 patients had metastatically involved locoregional lymph nodes, diagnosed on histopathology. In six patients, these nodes demonstrated increased FDG uptake on PET. In seven patients, PET/CT did not diagnose the positive lymph nodes. PET/CT was false positive in one patient. RESULTS AND LIMITATIONS: For the diagnosis of node-positive disease, the accuracy, the sensitivity, and the specificity of FDG-PET/CT were 84%, 46%, and 97%, respectively. When analysing the results of CT alone, there was accuracy of 80%, sensitivity of 46%, and specificity of 92%. The use of FDG-PET/CT is hampered by technical limitations. CONCLUSIONS: We found no advantage for combined FDG-PET/CT over CT alone for lymph node staging of invasive bladder cancer or recurrent high-risk superficial disease.