We aimed to determine the role of the wrist, elbow and shoulder joints to single-finger tapping. Six human subjects tapped with their index finger at a rate of 3 taps/s on a keyswitch across five conditions, one freestyle (FS) and four instructed tapping strategies. The four instructed conditions were to tap on a keyswitch using the finger joint only (FO), the wrist joint only (WO), the elbow joint only (EO), and the shoulder joint only (SO). A single-axis force plate measured the fingertip force. An infra-red active-marker three-dimensional motion analysis system measured the movement of the fingertip, hand, forearm, upper arm and trunk. Inverse dynamics estimated joint torques for the metacarpal-phalangeal (MCP), wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints. For FS tapping 27%, 56%, and 18% of the vertical fingertip movement were a result of flexion of the MCP joint and wrist joint and extension of the elbow joint, respectively. During the FS movements the net joint powers between the MCP, wrist and elbow were positively correlated (correlation coefficients between 0.46 and 0.76) suggesting synergistic efforts. For the instructed tapping strategies (FO, WO, EO, and SO), correlations decreased to values below 0.35 suggesting relatively independent control of the different joints. For FS tapping, the kinematic and kinetic data indicate that the wrist and elbow contribute significantly, working in synergy with the finger joints to create the fingertip tapping task. © 2007.