Twenty patients with vocal fold motion impairment were reviewed to correlate the findings of electromyography (EMG) and stroboscopy. The causes of motion impairment were idiopathic, previous surgery with recurrent laryngeal nerve injury, neck and skull base trauma, and neoplasm. The EMG studies were analyzed to assess the status of innervation of the immobile vocal fold. The presence or absence of the mucosal wave prior to therapeutic intervention was determined with stroboscopic examination. Eight of 10 patients with EMG evidence of reinnervation or partial denervation were found to have mucosal waves, and 3 of 10 patients with EMG evidence of denervation were found to have mucosal waves. Six patients developed mucosal waves after surgical medialization, despite evidence of denervation by EMG criteria. These findings support the premise that tension and subglottic pressure, rather than status of innervation, determine the presence of the mucosal wave.