Research in humans and monkeys has demonstrated a system of anatomically related structures in the medial temporal lobe that is important for memory function. This system is comprised of the hippocampal region (i.e., the dentate gyrus, hippocampus proper and subicular complex) and the entorhinal, perirhinal, and parahippocampal cortices. While the hippocampal region has long been thought to be important in memory, there are few systematic studies in primates of the effects on memory of damage limited to the hippocampal region. We have used magnetic resonance imaging techniques, together with a stereotaxic approach, to produce bilateral lesions limited to the hippocampal region (the H lesion). Damage to the adjacent perirhinal, entorhinal, and parahippocampal cortex was minimal. Monkeys with the H lesion exhibited significant and long-lasting impairment on the delayed non-matching to sample task. At the same time, on this and other amnesia-sensitive tasks, monkeys with the H lesion performed better overall than monkeys with lesions of the hippocampal region that also included damage to the adjacent entorhinal and parahippocampal cortices (the H+ lesion). These findings show that, first, the hippocampal region itself is essential for normal memory function; and second, the adjacent entorhinal and parahippocampal cortices, either alone or in combination, are also an essential component of the medial temporal lobe memory system.