Although it has long been thought that frontal lobe abnormality must play an important part in generating the severe impairment in higher-order social, emotional and cognitive functions in autism, only recently have studies identified developmentally early frontal lobe defects. At the microscopic level, neuroinflammatory reactions involving glial activation, migration defects and excess cerebral neurogenesis and/or defective apoptosis might generate frontal neural pathology early in development. It is hypothesized that these abnormal processes cause malformation and thus malfunction of frontal minicolumn microcircuitry. It is suggested that connectivity within frontal lobe is excessive, disorganized and inadequately selective, whereas connectivity between frontal cortex and other systems is poorly synchronized, weakly responsive and information impoverished. Increased local but reduced long-distance cortical-cortical reciprocal activity and coupling would impair the fundamental frontal function of integrating information from widespread and diverse systems and providing complex context-rich feedback, guidance and control to lower-level systems.