How do the parietal lobes contribute to simple calculation? Clinical and neuroimaging methods, which are based mainly on correlational evidence, have provided contrasting results so far. Here we used direct cortical electrostimulation during brain surgery to causally infer the role of the left and right parietal lobes in simple calculation. Stimulation provoked errors for addition and multiplication in different parietal areas on both hemispheres. Crucially, an innovative qualitative error analysis unveiled the functional contrast of the 2 parietal lobes. Right or left stimulation led to different types of substitution errors in multiplication, unveiling the function of the more active hemisphere. While inhibition of the left hemisphere led mainly to approximation errors, right hemisphere inhibition enhanced retrieval within a stored repertory. These results highlight the respective roles of each hemisphere in the network: rote retrieval of possible solutions by the left parietal areas and approximation to the correct solution by the right hemisphere. The bilateral orchestration between these functions guarantees precise calculation.