A method is proposed to synchronize positron emission tomography (PET) list-mode data with an externally recorded respiratory signal in the absence of a master clock. When the respiratory signal reaches a user-defined threshold, a trigger mark is stored in the list-mode file. After the acquisition, synchronization is achieved when the stored trigger marks are superimposed on the respiratory curve to form a horizontal line over time at the user-defined threshold. Synchronization was possible and unequivocal for ten out of ten clinical studies. The list-mode acquisition actually started approximately 40 and after acquisition initiation at the user interface of the Philips Gemini and the GE DLS PET-CT systems, respectively.