Single-trial motor imagery classification is an integral part of a number of brain-computer interface (BCI) systems. The possible significance of the kind of imagery, involving rather kinesthetic or visual representations of actions, was addressed using the following experimental conditions: kinesthetic motor imagery (MIK), visual-motor imagery (MIV), motor execution (ME) and observation of movement (OOM). Based on multi-channel EEG recordings in 14 right-handed participants, we applied a learning classifier, the distinction sensitive learning vector quantization (DSLVQ) to identify relevant features (i.e., frequency bands, electrode sites) for recognition of the respective mental states. For ME and OOM, the overall classification accuracies were about 80%. The rates obtained for MIK (67%) were better than the results of MIV (56%). Moreover, the focus of activity during kinesthetic imagery was found close to the sensorimotor hand area, whereas visual-motor imagery did not reveal a clear spatial pattern. Consequently, to improve motor-imagery-based BCI control, user training should emphasize kinesthetic experiences instead of visual representations of actions.