Functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) is a noninvasive technique for mapping regional brain changes in response to sensory, motor, or cognitive activation tasks. Interpretation of these activation experiments may be confounded by more elementary task parameters, such as stimulus presentation or movement rates. We examined the effect of movement rate on the FMRI response recorded from the contralateral primary motor cortex. Four right-handed healthy subjects performed flexion-extension movements of digits 2-5 of the right hand at rates of 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 Hz. Results of this study indicated a positive linear relationship between movement rate and FMRI signal change. Additionally, the number of voxels demonstrating functional activity increased significantly with faster movement rates. The magnitude of the signal change at each movement rate remained constant over the course of three 8-min scanning series. These findings are similar to those of previous rate studies of the visual and auditory system performed with positron emission tomography (PET) and FMRI.