Stimuli that preferentially activate rapidly adapting cutaneous receptors impair proprioception in the fingers. These experiments assessed potential mechanisms. The ability to detect passive movements about interphalangeal joints of the fingers was measured when vibrotactile stimuli were applied to the moving digit or to an adjacent digit at a high frequency (300 Hz) and low amplitude (50 microm peak-to-peak) that favours activation of Pacinian corpuscle (PC) afferents. Detection of movement was significantly impaired when vibration was applied to either digit. However, vibration applied to an anaesthetized adjacent digit caused no impairment. Impairment of proprioception was still observed when only skin and joint (but not muscle) afferents could contribute to detection, but was not significant with only muscle afferents intact during anaesthesia of the moving digit. We suggest that activation of PC afferents, either in or near the moving digit, impairs movement detection through an interaction predominantly between the classes of cutaneous afferents.