Gerstmann's syndrome encompasses the tetrad of finger agnosia, agraphia, acalculia and right-left confusion and is associated with lesions of the dominant angular gyrus. The localizing value of this syndrome has been questioned because multiple mechanisms can account for each of the components of the syndrome. We present the case of a man who developed Gerstmann's syndrome following a focal infarct of the left angular gyrus. The patient's right-left confusion could not be accounted for by either an aphasia or a degraded body schema. A series of experiments that investigated the patient's spatial mapping system by progressively restricting the degrees of freedom for spatial rotation revealed an isolated defect in deriving the relative position of an object along the horizontal axis. Defective horizontal mapping can account for the other components of Gerstmann's syndrome because they all share a common dependency on relative horizontal positioning. © 1995, Masson S.p.A.. All rights reserved.