To investigate the effect of hypoxia tracer properties on positron emission tomography (PET) image quality for three tracers [18F]-fluoromisonidazole (FMISO), [18F]-fluoroazomycinarabinoside (FAZA) and [18F]-flortanidazole (HX4), using mathematical simulations based on microscopic tumor tissue sections.Oxygen distribution and tracer binding was mathematically simulated on immunohistochemically stained cross-sections of tumor xenografts. Tracer diffusion properties were determined based on available literature. Blood activity and clearance over a four-hour period post-injection (p.i.) were derived from clinical dynamic PET scans of patients suffering from head and neck or bronchial cancer. Simulations were performed both for average patient blood activities and for individual patients, and image contrast between normoxic and hypoxic tissue areas was determined over this four-hour period p.i.On average, HX4 showed a six-fold higher clearance than FMISO and an almost three-fold higher clearance than FAZA based on the clinical PET data. The absolute variation in clearance was significantly higher for HX4 than for FMISO (standard deviations of 5.75 *10-5 s-1 vs. 1.55 *10-5 s-1). The absolute tracer activity in these scans at four hours p.i. was highest for FMISO and lowest for HX4. Simulated contrast at four hours p.i. was highest for HX4 (2.39), while FMISO and FAZA were comparable (1.67 and 1.75, respectively). Variations in contrast of 7-11% were observed for each tracer depending on the vascularization patterns of the chosen tissue. Higher variations in clearance for HX4 resulted in an increased inter-patient variance in simulated contrast at four hours p.i.In line with recent experimental and clinical data, the results suggest that HX4 is a promising new tracer that provides high image contrast four hours p.i., though inter-patient variance can be very high. Nevertheless, the widely used tracer FMISO provides a robust and reproducible signal four hours p.i., but with a lower contrast. The simulations revealed tracer clearance to be the key factor in determining image contrast.