Fourteen native speakers of German heard normal sentences, sentences which were either lacking dynamic pitch variation (flattened speech), or comprised of intonation contour exclusively (degraded speech). Participants were to listen carefully to the sentences and to perform a rehearsal task. Passive listening to flattened speech compared to normal speech produced strong brain responses in right cortical areas, particularly in the posterior superior temporal gyrus (pSTG). Passive listening to degraded speech compared to either normal or flattened speech particularly involved fronto-opercular and subcortical (Putamen, Caudate Nucleus) regions bilaterally. Additionally the Rolandic operculum (premotor cortex) in the right hemisphere subserved processing of neat sentence intonation. As a function of explicit rehearsing sentence intonation we found several activation foci in the left inferior frontal gyrus (Broca's area), the left inferior precentral sulcus, and the left Rolandic fissure. The data allow several suggestions: First, both flattened and degraded speech evoked differential brain responses in the pSTG, particularly in the planum temporale (PT) bilaterally indicating that this region mediates integration of slowly and rapidly changing acoustic cues during comprehension of spoken language. Second, the bilateral circuit active whilst participants receive degraded speech reflects general effort allocation. Third, the differential finding for passive perception and explicit rehearsal of intonation contour suggests a right fronto-lateral network for processing and a left fronto-lateral network for producing prosodic information. Finally, it appears that brain areas which subserve speech (frontal operculum) and premotor functions (Rolandic operculum) coincidently support the processing of intonation contour in spoken sentence comprehension.