OBJECTIVE: To assess the relevance of (99m)Tc-SestaMIBI (MIBI) scan in the diagnostic evaluation of thyroid nodules with oncocytic cytology. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Twenty-four patients with a single (or prevalent) 'cold' solid nodule with Hurthle cells (HC) at fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) were studied. Cytological diagnosis of oncocytic metaplasia (OM) or HC tumor (HCT) was made when HC on the smear were comprised 10-75%, or >75%. Nodules concentrating MIBI at early and late (2 h after washout) stages were considered MIBI-positive. In all cases histological findings were obtained after total thyroidectomy. RESULTS: FNAC was malignant or suspect for malignancy in 16 cases (six HCT and 10 OM) and not suspect in eight (two HCT and six OM). Histological examination revealed 14 malignant tumors (11 HCT and three OM), and 10 benign thyroid lesions (three HCT and seven OM). Sensitivity of FNAC for malignancy was 92.8% and specificity was 70.0%; HCT were identified by FNAC in only 35.7% and OM in 70.0% of cases. No significant difference in MIBI positivity was found between malignant and benign thyroid nodules. The highest percentage of MIBI positivity was found in HCT (78.5%), but MIBI-positive nodules were also observed in thyroid lesions with HC metaplasia (40.0%). CONCLUSIONS: MIBI scintiscan has no value in differentiating malignant from benign HC thyroid neoplasias. Most HCT are MIBI-positive, but this scan is not sufficiently specific to differentiate true HC neoplasias from other thyroid lesions showing HC at FNAC, although an MIBI-negative scan strongly supports the absence of true HCT.