This study examined the frequency of denervation activity in hemiplegic muscles in relation to the size and location of the central lesion. We studied 20 patients, 14 with major unilateral cerebral infarctions in the middle cerebral or internal carotid territories; four with a single lacune in the pons, internal capsule, or thalamus; and two with precentral infarcts. Using somatosensory evoked potentials, motor conduction studies, and assessments of conduction across the plexus and roots, we detected no conduction abnormalities on the affected side. Fibrillation was common in both groups, especially in distal and intermediate muscles. The distribution of the fibrillation and the normal conduction studies suggested that trauma of peripheral nerves was not a factor. Although the normal conduction studies and pattern of fibrillation activity do not exclude peripheral nerve trauma as the cause of the fibrillation, we suggest that transsynaptic degeneration is a reasonable alternative explanation.