Objective: Cerebral perfusion analysis based on arterial spin labeling (ASL) MRI has been proposed as an alternative to FDG-PET in patients with neurodegenerative disease. Z-maps show normal distribution values relating an image to a database of controls. They are routinely used for FDG-PET to demonstrate disease-specific patterns of hypometabolism at the individual level. This study aimed to compare the performance of Z-maps based on ASL to FDG-PET. Methods: Data were combined from two separate sites, each cohort consisting of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (n = 18 + 7), frontotemporal dementia (n = 12 + 8) and controls (n = 9 + 29). Subjects underwent pseudocontinuous ASL and FDG-PET. Z-maps were created for each subject and modality. Four experienced physicians visually assessed the 166 Z-maps in random order, blinded to modality and diagnosis. Results: Discrimination of patients versus controls using ASL-based Z-maps yielded high specificity (84%) and positive predictive value (80%), but significantly lower sensitivity compared to FDG-PET-based Z-maps (53% vs. 96%, p < 0.001). Among true-positive cases, correct diagnoses were made in 76% (ASL) and 84% (FDG-PET) (p = 0.168). Conclusion: ASL-based Z-maps can be used for visual assessment of neurodegenerative dementia with high specificity and positive predictive value, but with inferior sensitivity compared to FDG-PET. Key points: • ASL-based Z-maps yielded high specificity and positive predictive value in neurodegenerative dementia. • ASL-based Z-maps had significantly lower sensitivity compared to FDG-PET-based Z-maps. • FDG-PET might be reserved for ASL-negative cases where clinical suspicion persists. • Findings were similar at two study sites.