Behavioral research has demonstrated an advantage for females compared with males in social information processing. However, little is known about sex-related differences in brain activation during understanding of self and others. In the current functional magnetic resonance imaging study, this was assessed in late adolescents (aged 18-19) and young adults (aged 23-25) when making appraisals of self and other as well as reflected self-appraisals. Across all groups and for all appraisal conditions, activation was observed in the medial prefrontal cortex, medial posterior parietal cortex, left and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and left posterior parietal cortex. Males activated the medial posterior parietal cortex and bilateral temporoparietal junction more than females. The precuneus showed stronger activation in males compared with females specifically during appraisals of others. No differences between late adolescents and young adults were found. These results indicate that sex differences exist in the neural bases of social understanding. © The Author (2013). Published by Oxford University Press.