The effects of a prestimulus on the electrically elicited blink reflex components were investigated in 20 healthy subjects. In the first group of 10 subjects (warned group), electric shocks were delivered in isolation or preceded, at an interstimulus interval (ISI) of 0.1 s, 1 s, or 10 s, by a visual or acoustic warning stimulus. In the second group of 10 subjects (unwarned group), the electric shocks were delivered either in isolation or preceded, at the same ISI, by visual or acoustic stimuli having no warning value. The modulation of the three blink reflex components was then analysed. Compared to the baseline condition, the R1 oligosynaptic component was enhanced at 0.1 s and 1 s ISI, in the warned group with the visual prestimulus, but only at 0.1 s after a visual and acoustic prestimulus in the unwarned group. On the contrary, the polysynaptic responses showed a different course: R2 was significantly reduced at the 0.1 s interval in the warned group with both the prestimuli, and only with the visual prestimulus in the unwarned group. The R3 was inhibited at all three intervals with the visual prestimulus, and at the 0.1 s and 1 s with the acoustic one in the warned group, and only at 0.1 s in the unwarned group, both after visual and acoustic prestimuli. The decrement in R2 and R3 observed with the shortest interval was probably related to the prepulse inhibition of startle reflex. Furthermore, only R3 was still inhibited at longer intervals, when the sustained processes of attention may have influenced this component. Perhaps this combination of events represents, in the warned group, the best preparation for voluntary reflex reaction.