A P300 (P3)-evoked response is generated in a variety of mammalian species upon detection of significant environmental events. The P3 component has been proposed to index a neural system involved in attention and memory capacity. We investigated the contribution of anterior and posterior association cortex to somatosensory P3 generation. Somatosensory event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded in controls (n = 10) and patients with unilateral lesions in temporal- parietal junction (n = 8), lateral parietal cortex (n = 8), or dorsolateral frontal cortex (n = 10). Subjects pressed a button to mechanical taps of the fifth finger (targets; p = 0.12), randomly interposed in sequences of taps to the second (standards; p = 0.76) and the third or fourth finger (tactile novels; p = 0.06). Occasional shock stimuli were delivered to the wrist (shock novels; p = 0.06). The scalp- recorded P3 was differentially affected by anterior and posterior association cortex lesions. Subjects with temporal-parietal lesions showed markedly reduced P3s to all types of stimuli at all scalp locations. The reductions were largest at the parietal electrode site over the lesioned hemisphere. Parietal patients had normal P3s for all stimulus types except for contralateral shock novels, which generated reduced P3s. Frontal lesions had reductions of the novelty P3 over frontal sites with minimal changes in the target P3. The data support the existence of multiple intracranial P3 sources. The data further indicate that association cortex in the temporal-parietal junction is critical for generating the scalp-recorded target and novelty P3s, whereas dorsolateral frontal cortex contributes preferentially to novelty P3 generation. The N2 component was reduced by parietal and frontal lesions in patients who had intact target P3s, suggesting that different neural systems underlie N2 and P3 generation.