The goal of this work was to test the involvement of the central nucleus and basolateral complex of the amygdala in fear conditioning, using auditory and visual conditioned stimuli (CSs). The acoustic startle reflex in rats was used as the behavioral index of conditioning because startle is reliably enhanced in the presence of a conditioned stimulus (CS) previously paired with a footshock. Initially, differential conditioning procedures indicated reliable discrimination between a noise CS and a visual CS. Subsequently, the effects of amygdala lesions were evaluated when both modalities were paired with shocks in the same rats. Electrolytic or ibotenic acid lesions of the central nucleus of the amygdala blocked fear-potentiated startle to both auditory and visual CSs, consistent with the idea that the central nucleus serves as a response independent, final common relay for fear conditioning. Similarly, pre- or post-training electrolytic or NMDA- induced lesions of the basolateral complex of the amygdala, which damaged the lateral nucleus, and most of the basolateral nucleus, disrupted fear-potentiated startle to both CS modalities. This finding is consistent with the suggestion that, in fear conditioning, the basolateral complex of the amygdala serves as an obligatory relay of sensory information from subcortical and cortical sensory areas to the central nucleus of the amygdala.