Several specific metallic elements must be present in the human body to maintain health and function. Maintaining the correct quantity (from trace to bulk) and location at the cell and tissue level is essential. The study of the biological role of metals has become known as metallomics. While quantities of metals in cells and tissues can be readily measured in biopsy and autopsy samples by destructive analytical techniques, their trafficking and its role in health and disease are poorly understood. Molecular imaging with radionuclides - positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) - is emerging as a means to non-invasively study the acute trafficking of essential metals between organs, non-invasively and in real time, in health and disease. PET scanners are increasingly widely available in hospitals, and methods for producing radionuclides of some of the key essential metals are developing fast. This review summarises recent developments in radionuclide imaging technology that permit such investigations, describes the radiological and physicochemical properties of key radioisotopes of essential trace metals and useful analogues, and introduces current and potential future applications in preclinical and clinical investigations to study the biology of essential trace metals in health and disease.