Multichannel neuromagnetic recordings were used to differentiate signals from the human first (SI) and second (SII) somatosensory cortices and to define representations of body surface in them. The responses from contralateral SI, peaking at 20-40 ms, arose mainly from area 3b, where representations of the leg, hand, fingers, lips and tongue agreed with earlier animal studies and with neurosurgical stimulations and recordings on convexial cortex in man. Representations of the five fingers were limited to a cortical strip of approximately 2 cm in length. Responses from SII peaked 100-140 ms after contra- and ipsilateral stimuli and varied considerably from one subject to another. Signs of somatotopical organization were seen also in SII. Responses of SII were not fully recovered at interstimulus intervals of 8 s.