It has been suggested that sleep may have a positive effect on morning motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease (PD). We examined this possibility and also looked at common sleep disorders in PD. Seventy-eight PD patients and 43 normal elderly subjects answered a questionnaire. Of the PD patients, 43.6% reported improved motor symptoms in the morning, 37.2% worse, and 19.2% unchanged compared to the rest of the day. No difference was found between morning-better and -worse groups with respect to age, duration or stage of PD; antiparkinsonian medications utilized, and predominant motor symptoms. However, the morning-same group had a shorter duration of PD and less severe disease and required fewer dopaminergic medications. Sleep disorders were seen with equal frequency in the morning-better and -worse groups. Our results suggest that sleep does not have a direct effect on morning motor function. Alterations in morning motor symptomatology probably represent a manifestation of motor fluctuations. Sleep fragmentation and spontaneous daytime dozing occurred much more frequently in PD patients than controls. In addition, nocturnal vocalizations and daytime hallucinations occurred only in the PD group.