The present study investigates human visual processing of simple two-colour patterns using a delayed match to sample paradigm with positron emission tomography (PET). This study is unique in that we specifically designed the visual stimuli to be the same for both pattern and colour recognition with all patterns being abstract shapes not easily verbally coded composed of two-colour combinations. We did this to explore those brain regions required for both colour and pattern processing and to separate those areas of activation required for one or the other. We found that both tasks activated similar occipital regions, the major difference being more extensive activation in pattern recognition. A right-sided network that involved the inferior parietal lobule, the head of the caudate nucleus, and the pulvinar nucleus of the thalamus was common to both paradigms. Pattern recognition also activated the left temporal pole and right lateral orbital gyrus, whereas colour recognition activated the left fusiform gyrus and several right frontal regions.