OBJECTIVE: The aim of this pilot study was to test and demonstrate the feasibility of simultaneous positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head and upper neck area using a new hybrid PET/MRI system. METHODS: Eight patients with malignant head and neck tumours were included in the pilot study. Directly after routine PET/CT imaging with a whole-body system using the glucose derivative 2-[(18)F]fluoro-2deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) as a radiotracer additional measurements were performed with a prototype PET/MRI system for simultaneous PET and MR imaging. Physiological radiotracer uptake within regular anatomical structures as well as tumour uptake were evaluated visually and semiquantitatively (metabolic ratios) in relation to cerebellar uptake on the PET/MRI and PET/CT systems. RESULTS: The MR datasets showed excellent image quality without any recognisable artefacts caused by the inserted PET system. PET images obtained with the PET/MRI system exhibited better detailed resolution and greater image contrast in comparison to those from the PET/CT system. An excellent agreement between metabolic ratios obtained with both PET systems was found: R = 0.99 for structures with physiological tracer uptake, R = 0.96 for tumours. CONCLUSION: Simultaneous PET/MRI of the head and upper neck area is feasible with the new hybrid PET/MRI prototype.