So far, only sparse data on the cerebral organization of speech motor control are available. In order to further delineate the neural basis of articulatory functions, fMRI measurements were performed during self-paced syllable repetitions at six different frequencies (2-6 Hz). Bilateral hemodynamic main effects, calculated across all syllable rates considered, emerged within sensorimotor cortex, putamen, thalamus and cerebellum. At the level of the caudatum and the anterior insula, activation was found restricted to the left side. The computation of rate-to-response functions of the BOLD signal revealed a negative linear relationship between syllable frequency and response magnitude within the striatum whereas cortical areas and cerebellar hemispheres exhibited an opposite activation pattern. Dysarthric patients with basal ganglia disorders show unimpaired or even accelerated speaking rate whereas, in contrast, cerebellar dysfunctions give rise to slowed speech tempo which does not fall below a rate of about 3 Hz. The observed rate-to-response profiles of the BOLD signal thus might help to elucidate the pathophysiological mechanisms of dysarthric deficits in central motor disorders.