The differential diagnosis and management of Cushing's syndrome remain difficult, particularly for ectopic adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) syndromes resulting from small bronchial carcinoids. We report the case of a 41-year-old man with ectopic ACTH-dependent Cushing's syndrome. Two computed tomography scans of the thorax were normal and magnetic resonance imaging of the chest showed a 6-mm hyperintense T1-weighted area close to the left pulmonary hilus, interpreted as probably vascular by the radiologists. An [111In-DTPA-D-Phe1]octreotide scintigraphy scan demonstrated a positive image for somatostatin receptors in exactly the same location and surgery confirmed the presence of a small ACTH-secreting carcinoid tumour in the upper left lung lobe which was resected. Surgery cured the hypercorticism of the patient. The differential diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome and the procedure for localisation of an ACTH source are discussed.