The olivocerebellar system is known to generate periodic synchronous discharges that result in synchronous (to within 1 msec) climbing fiber activation of Purkinje cells (complex spikes) organized in parasagittally oriented strips. These results have been obtained primarily in anesthetized animals, and so the question remains whether the olivocerebellar system generates such patterns in the awake animal. To this end, multiple electrode recordings of crus 2a complex spike activity were obtained in awake rats conditioned to execute tongue movements in response to a tone. After removal of all movement- and tone-related activity, the remaining data were examined to characterize spontaneous complex spike activity in the alert animal. Spontaneous complex spikes occurred at an average firing rate of 1 Hz and a clear approximately 10 Hz rhythmicity. Analysis of the autocorrelograms using a rhythm index indicated that the large majority of Purkinje cells displayed rhythmicity, similar to that in the anesthetized preparation. In addition, the patterns of synchronous complex spike activity were also similar to those observed in the anesthetized preparation (i.e., simultaneous activity was found predominantly among Purkinje cells located within the same parasagittally oriented strip of cortex). The results provide unequivocal evidence that the olivocerebellar system is capable of generating periodic patterns of synchronous activity in the awake animal. These findings support the extrapolation of previous results obtained in the anesthetized preparation to the waking state and are consistent with the timing hypothesis concerning the role of the olivocerebellar system in motor coordination.