This study examined hemispheric specialization for stop task performance. It was found that inhibitory performance was better for stop signals presented in the right visual field. This result provided support for the hypothesis that, during stop task performance, subjects call upon the left-lateralized neural system that is involved in active attention. It was suggested that a stop task requires such a mode of attention because subjects maintain a tonic readiness for inhibitory action while being engaged in the stop task's go routine. Subjects are continuously alert for possible stop signals while discriminating between go stimuli. The stop task may be considered a typical activation task. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.