In the >40 years since planar myocardial imaging with43K-potassium was introduced into clinical research and management of patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), diagnosis and treatment have undergone profound scientific and technological changes. One such innovation is the current state-of-the-art hardware and software for positron emission tomography myocardial perfusion imaging, which has advanced it from a strictly research-oriented modality to a clinically valuable tool. This review traces the evolving role of quantitative positron emission tomography measurements of myocardial blood flow in the evaluation and management of patients with CAD. It presents methodology, currently or soon to be available, that offers a paradigm shift in CAD management. Heretofore, radionuclide myocardial perfusion imaging has been primarily qualitative or at best semiquantitative in nature, assessing regional perfusion in relative terms. Thus, unlike so many facets of modern cardiovascular practice and CAD management, which depend, for example, on absolute values of key parameters such as arterial and left ventricular pressures, serum lipoprotein, and other biomarker levels, the absolute levels of rest and maximal myocardial blood flow have yet to be incorporated into routine clinical practice even in most positron emission tomography centers where the potential to do so exists. Accordingly, this review focuses on potential value added for improving clinical CAD practice by measuring the absolute level of rest and maximal myocardial blood flow. Physiological principles and imaging fundamentals necessary to understand how positron emission tomography makes robust, quantitative measurements of myocardial blood flow possible are highlighted.