We previously described the augmentation of sensory nerve action potential amplitudes after near and remote isometric muscle contraction. In this study, we wished to determine if the sensory cortex was involved in this process. In this prospective, intrinsically controlled study, we studied threshold somatosensory evoked potentials in 12 normal subjects with stimulation of the median nerve at 5.1 Hz. The subjects were tested during the following conditions: baseline, 25%, and 75% maximum isometric abductor digiti minimi contraction for 4 min. Each of these conditions was recorded before, during, and 4 min and 8 min after contraction. Results showed that at 25% contraction, there was a significant temporal increase in N9 amplitude (2.1-2.6 microV; P = 0.05, analysis of variance, repeated measures) and a decrease in N20 amplitude with 75% contraction (1.9-1.6 microV; P = 0.03, analysis of variance, repeated measure). No significant changes were noted in the spinal cord or brainstem recordings. In conclusion, it appears that augmentation of the brachial plexus peripheral nervous system recording occurs concurrently with central inhibitory gating. The possibility of peripheral nervous system adaptability will be discussed.