The pattern of brain perfusion of four patients with writer's cramp and four control subjects were examined using positron emission tomography scans after [(15)O] butanol injections. Each subject was scanned 12 times to cover three repetitions of four different motor tasks with the right hand. Drawing of horizontal lines and variable durations of the writing of a prelearned text were performed in a pseudorandom order, the latter task commencing either simultaneously with or 30 sec or 120 sec before the tracer injection. The perceived difficulty and signs of dystonia progressed in correlation to the duration of writing. Statistical parametric maps were calculated to test hypotheses of regional specific effects dependent on the performed motor tasks. The patients with writer's cramp had progressively increased activity in the left primary sensorimotor and premotor cortices, the left thalamus, and the cerebellum with a right-side predominance in correlation to the duration of writing. The regions with activity increases thus corresponded to a cerebrocerebellar motor circuit. The duration of writing correlated to a progressive reduction of activity in the patients' left supramarginal and angular gyri (Brodmann areas 40 and 39) and an inferior part of the left temporal lobe (area 20). The control subjects had neither a significant increase or decrease of activity in correlation to the duration of writing. Group-specific differences were confirmed statistically in split-plot interaction analyses.