Usage of mobile phones is rapidly increasing, but there is limited data on the possible effects of electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure on brain physiology. We investigated the effect of EMF vs. sham control exposure on waking regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) and on waking and sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) in humans. In Experiment 1, positron emission tomography (PET) scans were taken after unilateral head exposure to 30-min pulse-modulated 900 MHz electromagnetic field (pm-EMF). In Experiment 2, night-time sleep was polysomnographically recorded after EMF exposure. Pulse-modulated EMF exposure increased relative rCBF in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex ipsilateral to exposure. Also, pm-EMF exposure enhanced EEG power in the alpha frequency range prior to sleep onset and in the spindle frequency range during stage 2 sleep. Exposure to EMF without pulse modulation did not enhance power in the waking or sleep EEG. We previously observed EMF effects on the sleep EEG (A. A. Borbély, R. Huber, T. Graf, B. Fuchs, E. Gallmann and P. Achermann. Neurosci. Lett., 1999, 275: 207–210; R. Huber, T. Graf, K. A. Cote, L. Wittmann, E. Gallmann, D. Matter, J. Schuderer, N. Kuster, A. A. Borbély, and P. Achermann. Neuroreport, 2000, 11: 3321–3325), but the basis for these effects was unknown. The present results show for the first time that (1) pm-EMF alters waking rCBF and (2) pulse modulation of EMF is necessary to induce waking and sleep EEG changes. Pulse-modulated EMF exposure may provide a new, non-invasive method for modifying brain function for experimental, diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.