For years, area 5 of the parietal cortex was thought to be a somatic sensory structure. This view was challenged by recordings during active movements in alert behaving monkeys, which suggested that area 5 also contained populations of neurons that issued nonspecific, context-dependent "commands" about intended motor responses. Recent studies have revealed that area 5 generates a representation of the spatiotemporal form of arm movements and arm postures, although the parameter space of that representation is still controversial. They also showed that many area 5 cells are recipient to centrally generated signals about the motor relevance of external sensory signals. These new results support the hypothesis that area 5 contributes to the sensorimotor guidance of motor behavior, by contributing to the somatomotor and visuomotor transformations presumed to underlie visually guided behavior. However, area 5 appears to be less directly implicated than the premotor cortex in the process of selecting the nature of the response to instructional signals.