In scalp recordings, stimulation of the median nerve evokes a number of long-latency (40-300 msec) somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) whose neural origins are unknown. We attempted to infer the generators of these potentials by comparing them with SEPs recorded from the cortical surface or from within the brain. SEPs recorded from contralateral sensorimotor cortex can be characterized as "precentral," "postcentral," or "pericentral." The scalp-recorded P45, N60 and P100 potentials appear to correspond to the pericentral P50, N90 and P190 potentials and are probably generated mainly in contralateral area 1 of somatosensory cortex. The scalp-recorded N70-P70 appear to correspond to the precentral and postcentral N80-P80 and are generated mainly in contralateral area 3b of somatosensory cortex. The scalp-recorded N120-P120 appear to correspond to the intracranial N100-P100 and are probably generated bilaterally in the second somatosensory areas. N140 and P190 (the "vertex potentials") are probably generated bilaterally in the frontal lobes, including orbito-frontal, lateral and mesial (supplementary motor area) cortex. The supplementary sensory area probably generates long-latency SEPs, but preliminary recordings have yet to confirm this assumption. Most of the proposed correspondences are speculative because the different conditions under which scalp and intracranial recordings are obtained make comparison difficult. Human recordings using chronically implanted cortical surface electrodes, and monkey studies of SEPs which appear to be analogs of the human potentials, should provide better answers regarding the precise generators of human long-latency SEPs.