Thirty-seven patients with severe temporal lobe epilepsy were studied interictally with [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose-PET in each of three conditions: resting, during emotional speech, and while performing a visual recognition task. In the resting state, each patient exhibited regional hypometabolism in agreement with his epileptic EEG focus, but that area was typically very large. The zone of maximum dysfunction was significantly better demarcated on activated scans showing an increase in whole-brain metabolism averaging 18%. Concurrently, the midtemporal-focus metabolic contrast was improved by 27%. This effect was more consistently produced by the speech paradigm that also induced significant amygdala recruitment and revealed the individual hemispheric speech dominance. Psychological trait factors played a role only for unspecific global activation.