Variation in response latency to identical sensory stimuli has been attributed to variation in neural activity mediating preparatory set. Here we report evidence for a relationship between saccadic reaction time (SRT) and set-related brain activity measured with event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging. We measured hemodynamic activation time-courses during a preparatory "gap" period, during which no visual stimulus was present and no saccades were made. The subjects merely anticipated appearance of the target. Saccade direction and latency were recorded during scanning, and trials were sorted according to SRT. Both the frontal (FEF) and supplementary eye fields showed pre-target preparatory activity, but only in the FEF was this activity correlated with SRT. Activation in the intraparietal sulcus did not show any preparatory activity. These data provide evidence that the human FEF plays a central role in saccade initiation; pre-target activity in this region predicts both the type of eye movement (whether the subject will look toward or away from the target) and when a future saccade will occur.