Interictal high-frequency oscillations over 200 Hz have been recorded with microelectrodes in the seizure onset zone of epileptic patients suffering from mesial temporal lobe epilepsy. Recent work suggests that similar high-frequency oscillations can be detected in the seizure onset zone using standard diagnostic macroelectrodes. However, only a few channels were examined in these studies, so little information is available on the spatial extent of high-frequency oscillations. Here, we present data on high-frequency oscillations recorded from a larger number of intracerebral contacts spatial (mean 38) in 16 patients. Data were obtained from 1 h of interictal recording sampled at 1024 Hz and was analysed using a new semi-automatic detection procedure based on a wavelet decomposition. A detailed frequency analysis permitted a rapid and reliable discrimination of high-frequency oscillations from other high-frequency events. A total of 1932 high-frequency oscillations were detected with an average frequency of 261 +/- 53 Hz, amplitude of 11.9 +/- 6.7 microV and duration of 22.7 +/- 11.6 ms. Records from a patient often showed several different high-frequency oscillation patterns. We classified 24 patterns from 11 patients. Usually (20/24 patterns) high-frequency oscillations were nested in an epileptic paroxysm, such as a spike or a sharp wave, and typically high-frequency oscillations (19/24) were recorded from just one recording contact. Unexpectedly in other cases, high-frequency oscillations (5/24) were detected simultaneously on two or three contacts, sometimes separated by large distances. This large spatial extent suggests that high-frequency oscillations may sometimes result from a neuronal synchrony manifest on a scale of centimetres. High-frequency oscillations were almost always recorded in seizure-generating structures of patients suffering from mesial (9/9) or polar (1/3) temporal lobe epilepsy. They were never found in the epileptic or healthy basal, lateral temporal or extra temporal neocortex nor in the healthy amygdalo-hippocampal complex. These findings confirm that the generation of oscillations at frequencies higher that 200 Hz is, at this scale, a specific, intrinsic property of seizure-generating networks in medial and polar temporal lobes, which have a common archaic phylogenetic origin. We show that this activity can be detected and its spatial extent determined with conventional intracranial electroencephalography electrodes in records from patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. It is a reliable marker of the seizure onset zone that should be considered in decisions on surgical treatment.