The polyamine metabolism of transplanted N-nitrosomethylurea-derived rat glioma was determined with radiolabeled putrescine used as a marker for malignancy. The uptake of putrescine in vivo was complete within 5 minutes and was specific for tumor tissue. The conversion of putrescine to spermine and other metabolites by the tumor was rapid, in contrast to the case for adjacent normal brain. These results suggest that putrescine labeled with carbon-11 may be used as a positron-emission tomographic tracer for the selective metabolic imaging of brain tumor and may be used in an appropriate model as a marker for tumor growth rate.