The objective of this study is to investigate differences in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) and rCBF asymmetry index values between panic disorder patients (n = 22) and normal comparison subjects (n = 19) using Tc99m-hexamethylpropyleneamine oxime single photon emission tomography imaging. A decrease in perfusion in the bilateral frontal regions and a relative increase in perfusion in the right medial and superior frontal regions were found. There were significant positive correlations between scores on the Panic and Agoraphobia Scale and rCBF asymmetry index values of the parietal, superior temporal and lateral temporal regions in the panic disorder patients. These correlations point to a relationship between the severity of panic disorder and relative right brain activation. Activation of the amygdala, increased CBF in the frontal region, or hyperactivation of the locus ceruleus seen in panic disorder may explain the decrease in the rCBF in the inferior frontal region. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.