Profound clinical deficits may be associated with insults to the brainstem, making management of patients with brainstem gliomas very complex. Small changes in the radiographic appearance of a brainstem tumor may be associated with significant clinical deterioration. Furthermore, both magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography are frequently unable to differentiate between therapy-related tissue reactions and progressive tumor. Two clinical scenarios particularly difficult to resolve include: (1) transient radiographic and clinical deterioration following hyperfractionated radiotherapy, and (2) clinical deterioration in a patient who has failed initial therapy, but has stable radiographic findings following a second therapy. We report a child with a pontine glioma whose tumor progression was demonstrated more convincingly with a 18F-deoxyglucose positron emission scan than with magnetic resonance imaging. PET scans may be helpful in confirming that tumor progression is responsible for clinical deterioration in a patient whose MRI scans remain stable.