Voluntary orienting of visual spatial attention has been shown to be associated with activation in a distributed network of frontal and parietal brain areas. Neuropsychological data suggest that at least some of these areas should be sensitive to the direction in which attention is shifted. The aim of this study was to use rapid event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate whether spatial attention in the auditory modality is subserved by the same or different brain areas as in the visual modality, and whether the auditory and visual attention networks show any degree of hemispheric lateralisation or sensitivity to the direction of attention shifts. The results suggest that auditory and visual spatial attention shifts are controlled by a supramodal network of frontal, parietal and temporal areas. Areas activated included the precuneus and superior parietal cortex, the inferior parietal cortex and temporo-parietal junction, as well as the premotor and supplementary motor areas and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). In the auditory task, some of these areas, in particular the precuneus as well as the inferior parietal cortex and temporo-parietal junction, showed ‘relative’ asymmetry, in that they responded more strongly to attention shifts towards the contralateral than the ipsilateral hemispace. Some areas, such as the right superior parietal cortex and left DLPFC, showed ‘absolute’ asymmetry, in that they responded more strongly in one than in the other hemisphere. Human Brain Mapp 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.