Brain activation patterns associated with three motor tasks, differing in the mode of movement selection, were studied in seven right-handed subjects, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The tasks consisted of sequences of finger movements in which the next finger was selected (i) according to a fixed sequence (FIX), (ii) in response to an external sensory cue (RAND), or (iii) on the basis of free, internal selection (SELF). Periods of hand relaxation (REST) alternating with the tasks served as a control. Functional maps resulting from comparison of the motor tasks with REST reveal activation in primary sensorimotor cortex, medial and lateral premotor areas, cingulate cortex, and parietal cortex. The task activation level, defined as the percentage MR signal increase for each task relative to REST, and the differential activation, defined as the percentage MR signal increase for RAND and SELF relative to FIX, were calculated in each area. All areas showed a higher activation level for RAND and SELF than for FIX. A significant difference in activation level or differential activation between SELF and RAND was found in the posterior part of the superior frontal sulcus, in a part of the premotor cortex on the lateral brain surface, in the anterior cingulate motor cortex, and in the posterior part of the superior parietal cortex. The high-resolution and single-subject approach, provided by fMRI, allowed the distinguishing of multiple foci in medial frontal areas, premotor cortex, and parietal cortex, reflecting the functional heterogeneity of these areas suggested by previous studies.