Brain potentials evoked to non-targets in an auditory target detection task changed in amplitude, duration, polarity, and scalp topography as a function of position in the stimulus sequence relative to the target. (1) A negative prestimulus readiness like-potential, or RP, the poststimulus N100, and a late slow wave to non-targets immediately after the target were reduced in amplitude compared to non-targets immediately before the target. The amplitudes of these potentials after the target then increased in size as a linear function of the number of non-targets in the sequence. (2) The amplitudes of the positive components, P50 and P200, were larger to non-targets immediately after the target than to non-targets immediately before the targets. P50 amplitude then decreased to subsequent non-targets in the sequence in a linear manner; P200 amplitude was reduced equivalently to all subsequent non-targets. (3) The duration of the P200 component could extend into the time domain when the P300 to targets would occur. The P200 component to non-targets was therefore designated 'P200/300'. The duration of the P200/300 component was shorter to non-targets immediately after the target than to non-targets immediately before the targets. P200/300 duration then extended in a linear manner to subsequent non-targets in the sequence and approached the peak latency of the P300 evoked by targets. (4) The anterior/posterior scalp distribution of P50 and the polarity of the late slow wave to non-targets changed as a function of non-target position in the sequence. The subject's response to the targets (button press or mental count) influenced these sequential effects. Linear trends for sequence were present in the press but not the count conditions for the amplitude of the RP, N100, and P300; linear trends for P50, P200/300 duration, and the late slow wave were found in both the press and count conditions. Reaction time was speeded as a function of the number of preceding targets. These dynamic changes in the processing of auditory signals were attributed to an interaction of attention and the subjective expectancies for both the appearance of a target stimulus and the requirement to make a motor response.