The posterior parietal cortex has long been considered an ‘association’ area that combines information from different sensory modalities to form a cognitive representation of space. However, until recently little has been known about the neural mechanisms responsible for this important cognitive process. Recent experiments from the author's laboratory indicate that visual, somatosensory, auditory and vestibular signals are combined in areas LIP and 7a of the posterior parietal cortex.The integration of these signals can represent the locations of stimuli with respect to the observer and within the environment. Area MSTd combines visual motion signals, similar to those generated during an observer's movement through the environment, with eye–movement and vestibular signals. This integration appears to play a role in specifying the path on which the observer is moving. All three cortical areas combine different modalities into common spatial frames by using a gain–field mechanism. The spatial representations in areas LIP and 7a appear to be important for specifying the locations of targets for actions such as eye movements or reaching; the spatial representation within area MSTd appears to be important for navigation and the perceptual stability of motion signals.