The beneficial effect of sleep on motor memory consolidation is well known for motor sequence memory, but remains unsettled for visuomotor adaptation in humans. The aim of this study was to characterize more clearly the influence of sleep on consolidation of visuomotor adaptation using a between-subjects functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) design contrasting sleep to total sleep deprivation. Our behavioural results, based on seven different parameters, show that sleep stabilizes performance whereas sleep deprivation deteriorates it. During training, while a set of cerebellar, striatal and cortical areas is activated in proportion to performance improvement, the recruitment of the hippocampus and frontal cortex protects motor memory against the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation. During retest after sleep loss a cerebello–cortical network, usually involved in the earliest stage of learning, was recruited to perform the task. In contrast, no changes in cerebral activity were observed after sleep, suggesting that it may only support the stabilization of the visuomotor adaptation memory trace.