Recent studies suggest that beta (15-30 Hz) oscillatory activity in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is dramatically increased in Parkinson's disease (PD) and may interfere with movement execution. Dopaminergic medications decrease beta activity and deep brain stimulation (DBS) in the STN may alleviate PD symptoms by disrupting this oscillatory activity. Depth recordings from PD patients have demonstrated beta oscillatory neuronal and local field potential (LFP) activity in STN, although its prevalence and relationship to neuronal activity are unclear. In this study, we recorded both LFP and neuronal spike activity from the STN in 14 PD patients during functional neurosurgery. Of 200 single- and multiunit recordings 56 showed significant oscillatory activity at about 26 Hz and 89% of these were coherent with the simultaneously recorded LFP. The incidence of neuronal beta oscillatory activity was significantly higher in the dorsal STN (P = 0.01) and corresponds to the significantly increased LFP beta power recorded in the same region. Of particular interest was a significant positive correlation between the incidence of oscillatory neurons and the patient's benefit from dopaminergic medications, but not with baseline motor deficits off medication. These findings suggest that the degree of neuronal beta oscillatory activity is related to the magnitude of the response of the basal ganglia to dopaminergic agents rather than directly to the motor symptoms of PD. The study also suggests that LFP beta oscillatory activity is generated largely within the dorsal portion of the STN and can produce synchronous oscillatory activity of the local neuronal population.