The information available about face identity from the firing rate and from temporal encoding in the spike train of single neurons recorded in the temporal lobe visual cortical areas of rhesus macaques was analysed using principal component and information theory analyses of smoothed spike trains. The neurons analysed had responses selective for faces. The stimulus set consisted of 20 different faces. The first principal component provided by a considerable extent the most information (57%) available in principal components 1–5, with the second adding 18%, the third 16%, and the fourth and fifth adding 9%. For each image, the weighting on the first principal component was highly correlated with the mean firing rate of the neuron to that image. The information available from the firing rate of the neuron was very close to that available in the first principal component. Information theory analysis showed that in short epochs (e.g. 50 msec) the information available from the firing rate can be as high, on average, as 65% of that available from the firing rate calculated over 400 msec, and 38% of that available from principal components 1–3 in the 400–msec period. It was also found that 30% of the information calculated from the first three principal components is available in the firing rates calculated over epochs as short as 20 msec. More information was available near the start of the neuronal response, and the information available from short epochs became less later in the neuronal response. Taken together, these analyses provide evidence that a short period of firing taken close to the start of the neuronal response provides a reasonable proportion.