Classical fear conditioning was used in the present study as a model for investigating emotional learning and memory in human subjects with lesions to the medial temporal lobe. Animal studies have revealed a critical role for medial temporal lobe structures, particularly the amygdala, in simple and complex associative emotional responding. Whether these structures perform similar functions in humans is unknown. On both simple and conditional discrimination tasks, unilateral temporal lobectomy subjects showed impaired conditioned response acquisition relative to control subjects. This impairment could not be accounted for by deficits in nonassociative sensory or autonomic performance factors, or by differences in declarative memory for the experimental parameters. These results show that temporal lobe structures in humans, as in other mammals, are important components in an emotional memory network.