Previous studies have suggested that the premotor cortex plays a role in motor preparation. We have tested this hypothesis in macaque monkeys by examining neuronal activity during an enforced, 1.5-3.0 s delay period between the presentation of an instruction for movement and the onset of that movement. Two targets for movement were available to the monkey, one on the left and one on the right. Illumination of one of the targets served as the instruction for a forelimb movement. It is known that there are cells in the premotor cortex that have directionally specific, sustained activity increases or decreases following such instructions. If the premotor cortex is involved in the preparation for movement in a particular direction, then changing the target from one to the opposite side during the delay period should lead to a pronounced change in sustained neuronal activity. Further, removing the instruction, while still requiring movement to the target, should have little or no sustained effect. Seventy cells showed the predicted activity patterns, thus supporting the view that the premotor cortex plays a role in motor preparation.