Chinese bilinguals performed a delayed naming task, reading both Chinese characters and English words, while EEGs were recorded by a 128-channel system. Principle component analysis (PCA) of Event Related Potentials (ERP) from the onset of the stimulus suggested a temporal unfolding of graphic, phonological, and semantic processing that depended on both language and word frequency. At 150 msec, Chinese produced an earlier and higher amplitude shift (N150) than English. At 250 msec, frequency effects were significant for both Chinese and English, but at 450 msec, only the English frequency effect was reliable. Source localization analysis by Low Resolution Electromagnetic Tomography (LORETA) showed bilateral occipital (left BA 17, right BA 18) visual processing of Chinese characters with left occipital only (left BA 17) for English high-frequency words. Low-frequency English words showed activation bilaterally, but with a more diffused and extended temporal pattern. Right prefrontal area (BA 10) was found to be strongly activated in the mid latency (300–400 msec) period of Chinese character naming, whereas English word naming showed more medial frontal (BA 8, and 10) activation. A post 450-msec visual verification was found to be general for both writing systems. Hum. Brain Mapping 18:167–175, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.