Cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are frequently evaluated before therapeutic embolization by superselective injection of anesthetics into individual arterial branches so as to determine whether permanent occlusion would affect eloquent function. In Experiment 1, we used this adaptation of the Wada procedure to study three right-handed adult patients with left frontal cerebral AVMs by injecting vessels in Wernicke's and Broca's areas, respectively, and assessing language functions. The results showed that superselective testing in the inferior division of the left MCA in all three patients produced a dense Wernicke's aphasia. Injections into the left frontal regions, however, resulted in right paresis in all patients, but no language deficits including no loss of fluency. In Experiment 2, Patient 2 underwent fMRI activation for spontaneous word-list generation using multi-slice echo planar BOLD techniques at 1.5 Tesla. A voxel-by-voxel comparison of rest vs activation for each task was performed with a Z-score threshold of 2.5 SD for activated voxels. There was activation in the right hemisphere in the insula, frontal operculum pars opercularis, and inferior frontal gyrus, an area homologous to Broca's area in the left hemisphere. There was also activation in the left hemisphere in the Rolandic region, but language function was unaffected during Wada testing in this area. These data suggested that features of expressive language were no longer controlled by the left frontal lobe where the AVM was located, and provided new evidence for interhemispheric re-organization under conditions of chronic neurovascular disease. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.