Complementary to its conventional applications, surface EMG is also suited to gain more detailed information on the functional state of a muscle, when measurement configurations with smaller pickup areas are used. A new category of suitable measurement configurations is obtained by application of the spatial filtering principle to electromyography. In a spatial filter unit, the signals of several recording electrodes are combined to form one output signal channel. The filter characteristic is determined by the weighting factors used and by the geometrical arrangement of the electrodes. Extended multielectrode arrays and multichannel recording make possible the detection of correlated excitations at different sites of the muscle. Even in high levels of muscle contraction, single motor unit impulses that are suitably shaped by filtering can be repeatedly recognized in the surface EMG signal. In clinical studies, pathologically shaped impulses have been identified indicating multiple innervation zones. The initiation and the propagation of excitation within single motor units can be detected with improved accuracy even from very small muscles.