Four patients with a unilateral focal vascular accident involving the internal capsule (but not the cortex) were studied electrophysiologically. Averaged somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) to electrical stimulation of the median nerve on the left or the right side were analyzed. In the 3 patients with hemiparesis and normal somatic sensation, the precentral P22 and N30 SEP components were lost, whereas the parietal components were preserved. In another patient with clinical somatosensory loss unaccompanied by any central motor impairment, the precentral SEP components were preserved, whereas the parietal SEP components were lost. Thus, a small capsular lesion can eliminate distinct cortical SEP components by selectively involving either the axons of the thalamic VPLc nucleus going to parietal receiving cortex or the axons of thalamic VPLo going to motor area 4. These findings extend to subcortical lesions the diagnostic value of SEPs in patients with dissociated clinical motor and sensory signs.