lectrical deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an efficient method to treat movement disorders. Many models of DBS, based mostly on finite elements, have recently been proposed to better understand the interaction between the electrical stimulation and the brain tissues. In monopolar DBS, clinically widely used, the implanted pulse generator (IPG) is used as reference electrode (RE). In this paper, the influence of the RE model of monopolar DBS is investigated. For that purpose, a finite element model of the full electric loop including the head, the neck and the superior chest is used. Head, neck and superior chest are made of simple structures such as parallelepipeds and cylinders. The tissues surrounding the electrode are accurately modelled from data provided by the diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DT-MRI). Three different configurations of RE are compared with a commonly used model of reduced size. The electrical impedance seen by the DBS system and the potential distribution are computed for each model. Moreover, axons are modelled to compute the area of tissue activated by stimulation. Results show that these indicators are influenced by the surface and position of the RE. The use of a RE model corresponding to the implanted device rather than the usually simplified model leads to an increase of the system impedance (+48%) and a reduction of the area of activated tissue (- 15 %). © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.