We investigated the functional role of oscillatory activity in the local field potential (LFP) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) in the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease (PD). It has been postulated that beta (15–30 Hz) oscillatory activity in the basal ganglia induces PD motor symptoms. To assess this hypothesis, an LFP showing significant power in the beta frequency range (23 Hz) was used as a stimulus both in vitro and in vivo. We first demonstrated in rat brain slices that STN neuronal activity was driven by the LFP stimulation. We then applied beta stimulation to the STN of 16 rats and two monkeys while quantifying motor behaviour. Although stimulation-induced behavioural effects were observed, stimulation of the STN at 23 Hz induced no significant decrease in motor performance in either rodents or primates. This study is the first to show LFP-induced behaviour in both rats and primates, and highlights the complex relationship between beta power and parkinsonian symptoms.