A recent intrinsic signal optical imaging study in tree shrew showed, surprisingly, that the population response of V1 to plaid patterns comprising grating components of equal contrast is predicted by the average of the responses to the individual components (MacEvoy SP, Tucker TR, Fitzpatrick D. Nat Neurosci 12: 637-645, 2009). This prompted us to compare responses to plaids and gratings in human visual cortex as a function of contrast and orientation. We found that the functional MRI (fMRI) blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) responses of areas V1-V3 to a plaid comprising superposed grating components of equal contrast are significantly higher than the responses to a single component. Furthermore, the orientation response profile of a plaid is poorly predicted from a linear combination of the responses to its components. Together, these results indicate that the model of MacEvoy et al. (2009) cannot, without modification, account for the fMRI BOLD response to plaids in human visual cortex.