Abstract In a random number generation (RNG) task subjects are instructed to generate the numbers 1–10 in a random fashion. RNG performance is assumed to involve executive functions, as it requires controlled response generation and suppression of habitual responses. To investigate cerebral structures involved in RNG associated executive functions we investigated functional magnetic resonance imaging in eight healthy subjects while performing an RNG task at two different response rates (1 and 2 Hz). During the 1 Hz condition an activation was detected bilaterally in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (BA 9/46), the lateral premotor cortex (BA 6), the anterior cingulate (BA 32), the inferior and superior parietal cortex (BA 7/40) and the cerebellar hemispheres. In the 2 Hz condition behavioural data showed higher counting tendencies reflecting poorer executive control. In parallel, a homogenous diminution of the activity in the involved cortical areas was obtained. This finding would support the theory of a cortical network involved in executive functions consisting of distinct brain regions working together rather than a distinct fronto-cortical functional localisation.