The purpose of this study is to compare tactile stimulation of the palm with voluntary movement of the fingers as paradigms for mapping the sensorimotor cortex in functional magnetic resonance imaging. In 22 subjects, 24 sets of functional magnetic resonance images were obtained with echoplanar acquisitions and cross-correlation image processing techniques. Two tasks were employed: a motor task in which subjects moved the thumb and index finger of one hand and a sensory task in which the palm was scratched by another person. The activation from the two tasks coincided entirely in 20 sets and partially in 3 sets. In one case, no activation was seen with the motor task. The study suggests that tactile stimulation of the palm is useful and reliable for mapping the sensorimotor cortex.