In the accompanying paper (Sanes et al. 1989), we demonstrated that the map of motor cortex (MI) output was reorganized when examined 1 week to 4 months after a motor nerve lesion in adult rats. The present experiments measured the extent of functional reorganization that occurs within the first hours after this lesion. Shifts in MI output were examined by testing the effect of stimulation at a site in MI vibrissa area before and up to 10 h after nerve section of the branches of the facial nerve that innervate the vibrissa. Immediately following nerve transection, no movement or forelimb EMG activity was evoked by intracortical electrical stimulation within the vibrissa area. Within hours of the nerve transection, however, stimulation elicited forelimb EMG responses that were comparable to those obtained by stimulating within the pre-transection forelimb area. Remapping of MI after nerve transection indicated that the forelimb boundary had shifted about 1 mm medially from its original location into the former vibrissa territory. Forelimb EMG could be evoked for up to 10 h within this reorganized cortex. These results indicated that the output circuits of MI can be quickly reorganized by nerve lesions in adult mammals.