Advances in pediatric and obstetric surgery have resulted in an increase in the complexity, duration and number of anesthetic procedures. Currently, the general anesthetics that are used most often have either NMDA receptor blocking or GABA receptor activating properties. It has been reported that prolonged exposure of the developing brain to a clinically relevant concentration of anesthetics that have NMDA antagonist or GABA-mimetic properties, and/or their combinations, resulted in an extensive abnormal pattern of neuroapoptosis, and subsequent cognitive deficits in animals. Molecular imaging using positron emission tomography (PET) is a leading modality for obtaining non- or minimally invasive in vivo measurements of multiple biological processes in various organs. The development of microPET imaging applications has provided the ability to collect sensitive and quantitative three-dimensional molecular information from the living brains of a variety of animals. The main aim of this review was to describe molecular imaging approaches that have been used in the study of pediatric anesthetic-induced neuronal toxicity. Published 2013. This article is a US Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.