Event-related potentials in visual and auditory target detection tasks were recorded simultaneously from the scalp, somatosensory thalamus and periaqueductal gray in a chronic pain patient with electrodes implanted subcortically for therapeutic purposes. Short latency tactile responses confirmed the location of the thalamic electrodes. Rare auditory stimuli which were detected by the subject were accompanied by a prominent P300 component at the scalp, and by negative activity at the subcortical sites with the same latency as the scalp positivity. This activity was not seen in responses to frequent non-target stimuli and was not dependent on an overt motor response. Similarly, rare visual stimuli generated a scalp P300 and negative activity subcortically; both scalp and subcortical waves had a longer latency than in the auditory experiment. The reaction time was similarly longer to visual targets. These data are inconsistent with a hippocampal generator for P300, but are consistent with a generator in the thalamus or more dorsally located structures.