Huntington's disease patients perform automatic movements in a bradykinetic manner, somewhat similar to patients with Parkinson's disease. Cortical activity relating to the preparation of movement in Parkinson's disease is significantly improved when a cognitive strategy is used. It is unknown whether patients with Huntington's disease can utilise an attentional strategy, and what effect this strategy would have on the premovement cortical activity. Movement-related potentials were recorded from 12 Huntington's disease patients and controls performing externally cued finger tapping movement, allowing an examination of cortical activity related to movement performance and bradykinesia in this disease. All subjects were tested in two conditions, which differed only by the presence or absence of the cognitive strategy. The Huntington's disease group, unlike controls, did not produce a rising premovement potential in the absence of the strategy. The Huntington's disease group did produce a rising premovement potential for the strategy condition, but the early slope of the potential was significantly reduced compared with the control group's early slope. These results are similar to those found previously with Parkinson's disease patients. The strategy may have put the task, which previously might have been under deficient automatic control, under attentional control.