Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has the potential to replace the intracarotid amobarbital procedure (IAP) in presurgical evaluation of patients with epilepsy. In this study, we compared fMRI verb generation (VG) and semantic decision/tone decision (SDTD) tasks and the IAP in their ability to localize language functions in patients with epilepsy undergoing presurgical evaluation. We enrolled 50 healthy controls to establish normal language activation patterns for VG and SDTD tasks at 3 or 4 T, and to design language regions of interest (ROIs) that were later applied to 38 patients with epilepsy (28 of 38 also underwent the IAP). We calculated laterality indices (LIs) for each task for each subject based on the ROIs, and we used general linear modeling to analyze the fMRI data. All healthy and epileptic subjects activated language areas with both fMRI tasks. We found significant correlations in language lateralization between the fMRI tasks (r = 0.495, P < 0.001) and between VG and IAP (r = 0.652, P < 0.001) and SDTD and IAP (r = 0.735, P < 0.001). The differences in LIs between SDTD and VG tasks were small and not affected by age, gender, epilepsy status, handedness, or performance. SDTD and VG tasks combined explained approximately 58.4% in the variability of the IAP/language. In the general linear modeling, only the SDTD task significantly contributed to the determination of language lateralization in patients with epilepsy undergoing presurgical evaluation. Results indicate a moderate convergent validity between both fMRI language tasks and between IAP and fMRI tasks. The results of this study indicate that either of these fMRI tasks can be used for language lateralization in patients with epilepsy undergoing presurgical evaluation, but that the SDTD task is likely to provide more information regarding language lateralization than the VG task. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.