Existing cognitive and neural imaging studies have suggested a frontoparietal network of multiple, cooperative components for verbal working memory (WM). We used functional MRI to investigate whether this neural network is also involved in the processing of second language by nonfluent bilinguals. Twelve (five males, seven females) native Chinese speakers who had limited English proficiency were scanned while performing working memory tasks in Chinese and English. They were asked to make judgment continuously whether the word presented on the screen was semantically related to (i.e., the semantic tasks) another word presented two words earlier. On a different task (i.e., the phonological tasks), they were asked to make judgment whether the target word rhymed with the other word. A naming and judgment task in each language was adopted to control for the visual process, initial lexical process, and motor responses. Behavioral data showed that subjects performed better at tasks in their native language (Chinese, L1) than in English (L2). Imaging results showed that all working memory tasks in both L1 and L2 elicited a very similar pattern of left-hemisphere-dominated activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, pars opercularis region, pars triangularis region, precentral cortex, and parietal lobule. Consistent with the behavioral data, the volume of activation in the left opercularis region, left parietal lobule, and right precentral region was greater for L2 than for L1. These results suggest that working memory in L1 and L2 is mediated by a unitary neural system (i.e., frontoparietal region), which is capable of recruiting surrounding cortical resources to meet the increased computational demand caused by low L2 proficiency. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.