The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) citalopram (R,S-citalopram) is a racemic compound of two enantiomers. On the basis of in-vitro studies, inhibition of the human serotonin transporter (5-HTT) is achieved by the S-enantiomer (S-citalopram or escitalopram). The aim of the present PET study was to compare 5-HTT occupancy after single equimolar doses (with respect to S-enantiomer) in humans in vivo using R,S-citalopram (20 mg) and S-citalopram (10 mg) using PET and the radioligand [11C]MADAM. The design was a single-dose, double-blind, two-way crossover study in eight healthy male subjects. The 5-HTT binding potential at baseline and after single doses of study drugs was used to calculate 5-HTT occupancy in seven brain regions. Serum concentrations of the study drugs were determined in order to calculate the apparent inhibition constant (Ki,app), a secondary parameter of interest for the comparison. In all brain regions examined, occupancy was numerically higher after treatment with R,S-citalopram [66±19% to 78±17% (mean±s.d.) depending on the region] than after S-citalopram (59±15% to 69±13%; overall comparison: F=14.8, d.f.=1, 90, p<0.001). In line with this the apparent inhibition constant was significantly lower for R,S-citalopram than for S-citalopram (overall comparison: F=6.7, d.f.=1, 90, p<0.05). The small but significant difference in occupancy and Ki,app found between R,S-citalopram and S-citalopram suggests that not only S-citalopram but also R-citalopram to some degree occupies the 5-HTT in the human brain in vivo.