Measuring discrete-trial motor-related brain activity using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is considered difficult. This is because its spatial resolution is much lower than that of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and its signals include non-motion-related artifacts. To detect changes in hemoglobin induced by movements, most fNIRS studies have used a block design in which a subject conducts a set of repetitive movements for over a few seconds. Changes in hemoglobin induced by the series of movements are accumulated. Here, we address whether fNIRS can detect a phasic change induced by a discrete ballistic movement using an event-related design similar to those often adopted in fMRI experiments. To detect only event-related brain activity and to reduce the effect of artifacts, we adopted a general linear model whose design matrix contains data from the short transmitter-receiver distance channels that are considered components of artifacts. As a result, high event-related activity was detected in the contralateral sensorimotor cortex. We also compared the topographic functional map produced by fNIRS with the map given by an event-related fMRI experiment in which the same subjects performed exactly the same task. Both maps showed activity in equivalent areas, and the similarity was significant. We conclude that fNIRS affords the opportunity to explore motor-related brain activity even for discrete ballistic movements.