This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate brain activation during preparatory and regulatory control while participants (N = 24) were instructed either to simply view or decrease their emotional response to, pleasant, neutral or unpleasant pictures. A main effect of emotional valence on brain activity was found in the right precentral gyrus, with greater activation during positive than negative emotion regulation. A main effect of regulation phase was evident in the bilateral anterior prefrontal cortex (PFC), precuneus, posterior cingulate cortex, right putamen and temporal and occipital lobes, with greater activity in these regions during preparatory than regulatory control. A valence X regulation interaction was evident in regions of ventromedial PFC and anterior cingulate cortex, reflecting greater activation while regulating negative than positive emotion, but only during active emotion regulation (not preparation). Conjunction analyses revealed common brain regions involved in differing types of emotion regulation including selected areas of left lateral PFC, inferior parietal lobe, temporal lobe, right cerebellum and bilateral dorsomedial PFC. The right lateral PFC was additionally activated during the modulation of both positive and negative valence. Findings demonstrate significant modulation of brain activity during both preparation for, and active regulation of positive and negative emotional states.