We have undertaken the analysis of the human 'evoked electrospinogram' during intra-dural surgical explorations in 20 patients. Averaged spinal cord surface evoked potentials to peripheral nerve electrical stimulation were obtained from various restricted loci on the pial surface of the cervical and lumbo-sacral spinal cord. The brachial plexus P9 potential and its lumbo-sacral counterpart P17 were recorded as ubiquitous initial far-field positivities. The pre-synaptic compound action potentials N11 and N21 dwelt on the ascending slope of N13 and N24 respectively. They were composed of 1-5 sharp peaks and collected from the dorsal and dorso-lateral positions mainly, on the cervical and lumbo-sacral cord respectively. They are thought to be generated in the proximal portion of the dorsal root, the dorsal funiculus and the afferent collaterals to the dorsal horn. Compound action potentials could also be gathered from the surface of the dorsal roots, the cervical N10 and lumbo-sacral N19 potentials. The large cervical N13 and lumbo-sacral N24 waves originate from a dorso-ventral post-synaptic dipole, generated in deep laminae of the dorsal horn during the activation of large diameter afferent fibers. These waves were maximal on the main entry cord segments of the stimulated nerves and fell off on the 1-4 more rostral and caudal segments. The N2 wave is the dorsal component of another post-synaptic dorso-ventral dipole generated in deep laminae of the dorsal horn but activated by medium diameter afferent fibers. The latest event was the N3 wave, also possibly part of a dorso-ventral post-synaptic dipole, and generated by cells in the dorsalmost and deep dorsal horn laminae during the activation of small diameter afferent fibers. The P wave was a prolonged positive deflection which carried the N2 and N3 waves. It is the manifestation of pre-synaptic inhibition on primary afferent fibers. A supra-segmental ascending spinal cord volley was also described, composed of a long succession of sharp and low voltage peaks.