In this study, we have preformed simultaneous near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) along with BOLD (blood oxygen level dependent) and ASL (arterial spin labeling)-based fMRI during an event-related motor activity in human subjects in order to compare the temporal dynamics of the hemodynamic responses recorded in each method. These measurements have allowed us to examine the validity of the biophysical models underlying each modality and, as a result, gain greater insight into the hemodynamic responses to neuronal activation. Although prior studies have examined the relationships between these two methodologies through similar experiments, they have produced conflicting results in the literature for a variety of reasons. Here, by employing a short-duration, event-related motor task, we have been able to emphasize the subtle temporal differences between the hemodynamic parameters with a high contrast-to-noise ratio. As a result of this improved experimental design, we are able to report that the fMRI measured BOLD response is more correlated with the NIRS measure of deoxy-hemoglobin (R = 0.98; P < 10(-20)) than with oxy-hemoglobin (R = 0.71), or total hemoglobin (R = 0.53). This result was predicted from the theoretical grounds of the BOLD response and is in agreement with several previous works [Toronov, V.A.W., Choi, J.H., Wolf, M., Michalos, A., Gratton, E., Hueber, D., 2001. "Investigation of human brain hemodynamics by simultaneous near-infrared spectroscopy and functional magnetic resonance imaging." Med. Phys. 28 (4) 521-527.; MacIntosh, B.J., Klassen, L.M., Menon, R.S., 2003. "Transient hemodynamics during a breath hold challenge in a two part functional imaging study with simultaneous near-infrared spectroscopy in adult humans". NeuroImage 20 1246-1252.; Toronov, V.A.W., Walker, S., Gupta, R., Choi, J.H., Gratton, E., Hueber, D., Webb, A., 2003. "The roles of changes in deoxyhemoglobin concentration and regional cerebral blood volume in the fMRI BOLD signal" Neuroimage 19 (4) 1521-1531]. These data have also allowed us to examine more detailed measurement models of the fMRI signal and comment on the roles of the oxygen saturation and blood volume contributions to the BOLD response. In addition, we found high correlation between the NIRS measured total hemoglobin and ASL measured cerebral blood flow (R = 0.91; P < 10(-10)) and oxy-hemoglobin with flow (R = 0.83; P < 10(-05)) as predicted by the biophysical models. Finally, we note a significant amount of cross-modality, correlated, inter-subject variability in amplitude change and time-to-peak of the hemodynamic response. The observed co-variance in these parameters between subjects is in agreement with hemodynamic models and provides further support that fMRI and NIRS have similar vascular sensitivity.