The P300 response is conventionally obtained by averaging the responses to the task-relevant (target) stimuli of the oddball paradigm. However, it is well known that cognitive ERP components show a high variability due to changes of cognitive state during an experimental session. With simple tasks such changes may not be demonstrable by the conventional method of averaging the sweeps chosen according to task-relevance. Therefore, the present work employed a response-based classification procedure to choose the trials containing the P300 component from the whole set of sweeps of an auditory oddball paradigm. For this purpose, the most significant response property reflecting the P300 wave was identified by using the wavelet transform (WT). The application of a 5 octave quadratic B-spline-WT on single sweeps yielded discrete coefficients in each octave with an appropriate time resolution for each frequency range. The main feature indicating a P300 response was the positivity of the 4th delta (0.5-4 Hz) coefficient (310-430 ms) after stimulus onset. The average of selected single sweeps from the whole set of data according to this criterion yielded more enhanced P300 waves compared with the average of the target responses, and the average of the remaining sweeps showed a significantly smaller positivity in the P300 latency range compared with the average of the nontarget responses. The combination of sweeps classified according to the task-based and response-based criteria differed significantly. This suggests an influence of changes in cognitive state on the presence of the P300 wave which cannot be assessed by task performance alone. (C) 1999 Academic Press.