Research has suggested that the integrity of semantic processing may be compromised in Parkinson's disease (PD), which may account for difficulties in complex sentence comprehension. In order to investigate the time course and integrity of semantic activation in PD, 20 patients with PD and 23 healthy controls performed a lexical decision task based on the multi-priming paradigm. Semantic priming effects were measured across stimulus onset asynchronies of 250 ms, 600 ms, and 1200 ms. Further, PD participants performed an auditory comprehension task. The results revealed significantly different patterns of semantic priming for the PD group at the 250-ms and 1200-ms SOAs. In addition, a delayed time course of semantic activation was evident for PD patients with poor comprehension of complex sentences. These results provide further support to suggest that both automatic and controlled aspects of semantic activation may be compromised in PD. Furthermore, the results also suggest that some sentence comprehension deficits in PD may be related to a reduction in information processing speed. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.