Recent evidence showed that exposure of tape-tutored zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata castanotis) males to the tutor song involves neuronal activation in brain regions outside the conventional ‘song control pathways’, particularly the caudal part of the neostriatum (NCM) and of the hyperstriatum ventrale (CMHV). Zebra finch males were reared with a live tutor during the sensitive period for song learning. When, as adults, they were re-exposed to the tutor song, the males showed increased expression of Fos, the protein product of the immediate early gene c-fos, in the NCM and CMHV, compared with expression in two conventional ‘song control nuclei’, high vocal centre (HVC) and Area X. The strength of the Fos response (which is a reflection of neuronal activation) in the NCM (but not in the other three regions) correlated significantly and positively with the number of song elements that the birds had copied from the tutor song. Thus, socially tutored zebra finch males show localized neural activation in response to tutor song exposure, which correlates with the strength of song learning.