The P300 (P3) event-related brain potential (ERP) was elicited with a passive tone sequence paradigm and evaluated in 2 studies. Experiment 1 compared ERPs from the passive procedure with those from an active discrimination (oddball) task. The passive sequence paradigm yielded P3 wave forms remarkably similar to those obtained from the active task since both demonstrated central-parietal maximum scalp distributions and virtually identical peak latencies. No differences between tasks were found when ERPs were elicited with subject's eyes open or closed. Experiment 2 compared ERPs from the passive sequence paradigm obtained when subjects were attempting to solve a word puzzle with those from a simple ignore condition. The puzzle-solving secondary task produced a decrease in P3 amplitude relative to the ignore condition, although P3 peak latency was unaffected. These results suggest that the passive sequence paradigm may be a useful and reliable means of eliciting the P3 ERP in subject populations or experimental situations in which an active discrimination task cannot be performed.