The cerebral organization of word identification processes in reading was examined using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Changes in fMRI signal intensities were measured in 38 subjects (19 males and 19 females) during visual (line judgement), orthographic (letter case judgement), phonological (nonword rhyme judgement) and semantic (semantic category judgement) tasks. A strategy of multiple subtractions was employed in order to validate relationships between structure and function. Orthographic processing made maximum demands on extrastriate sites, phonological processing on a number of frontal and temporal sites, and lexical-semantic processing was most strongly associated with middle and superior temporal sites. Significant sex differences in the cerebral organization of reading-related processes were also observed.