The purpose of this study was to quantify the long-term loss of independent finger movements in humans with lesions relatively restricted to motor cortex or corticospinal tract. We questioned whether damage to the motor cortex or corticospinal tract would permanently affect the ability to move each finger to the same degree or would affect some fingers more than others. People with pure motor hemiparesis due to ischemic cerebrovascular accident were used as our experimental sample. Pure motor hemiparetic and control subjects were tested for their ability to make cyclic flexion/extension movements of each finger independently. We recorded their finger joint motion using an instrumented glove. The fingers of control subjects and of the unaffected hands (ipsilateral to the lesion) of hemiparetic subjects moved relatively independently. The fingers of the affected hands (contralateral to the lesion) of hemiparetic subjects were differentially impaired in their ability to make independent finger movements. The independence of the thumb was normal; the independence of the index finger was slightly impaired, while the independence of the middle, ring, and little fingers was substantially impaired. The differential long-term effects of motor cortical or corticospinal damage on finger independence may result from rehabilitative training emphasizing tasks requiring independent thumb and index movements, and from a greater ability of the spared components of the neuromuscular system to control the thumb independently compared with the other four fingers.