Hand motor tasks are frequently used to assess impaired motor function in neurology and neurorehabilitation. Assessments can be varied by means of hand laterality, i.e. unimanual or bimanual performance, as well as by means of task complexity, i.e. different degrees ranging from simple to complex sequence tasks. The resulting functional activation in human primary motor cortex (M1) has been studied intensively by traditional neuroimaging methods. Previous studies using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) investigated simple hand motor tasks. However, it is unknown whether fNIRS can also detect changes in response to increasing task complexity. Our hypothesis was to show that fNIRS could detect activation changes in relation to task complexity in uni- and bimanual tasks. Sixteen healthy right-handed subjects performed five finger-tapping tasks: unimanual left and right, simple and complex tasks as well as bimanual complex tasks. We found significant differences in oxy-hemoglobin (O(2)Hb) and deoxy-hemoglobin (HHb) concentration in the right hemisphere over M1. Largest O(2)Hb concentration changes were found during complex (0.351+/-0.051 micromol/l) and simple (0.275+/-0.054 micromol/l) right hand tasks followed by bimanual (0.249+/-0.047 micromol/l), complex (0.154+/-0.034 micromol/l) and simple (0.110+/-0.034 micromol/l) left hand tasks. Largest HHb concentration changes were found during bimanual (-0.138+/-0.006 micromol/l) tasks, followed by simple right hand (-0.12+/-0.016 micromol/l), complex left (-0.0875+/-0.007 micromol/l), complex right (-0.0863+/-0.005 micromol/l) and simple left (-0.0674+/-0.005 micromol/l) hand tasks. We report for the first time that fNIRS detects oxygenation changes in relation to task complexity during finger-tapping. The study aims to contribute to the establishment of fNIRS as a neuroimaging method to assess hand motor function in clinical settings where traditional neuroimaging methods cannot be applied.