Abstract In order to study motor and non-motor aspects of the contingent negative variation (CNV), fifteen right-handed subjects were asked to perform tightly controlled responses in a WS-S1-S2 paradigm. WS was a non-informative warning signal; S1 and S2 provided information about the response required at S2. This information was either delivered before a block of trials (Simple), at S1 (Precued), or at S2 (Choice). Negativity was larger prior to the informative than to the non-informative stimulus, suggesting the presence of a component called stimulus-preceding negativity (SPN). This finding supported the hypothesis that the late CNV consists of a readiness potential and an SPN. The scalp distribution of the SPN was different before S1 and before S2. The significance of these components is discussed in terms of motor preparation, stimulus anticipation and energetical processes.