We examined memory-related activity within to-be-resected medial temporal lobe (MTL) structures in 12 epilepsy patients with PET before amygdalohippocampectomy and studied the reallocation of memory functions to the contralateral MTL before and after surgery. Learning tasks were designed to activate predominantly the right or left MTL. Those patients who significantly activated to-be-resected ipsilateral MTL structures during the ipsilateral learning task (i.e. the left MTL during verbal learning or the right MTL during nonverbal learning) experienced a postoperative memory decline. Preoperative activation in the contralateral MTL during the ipsilateral learning task positively correlated with the postoperative outcome for ipsilateral memory. There was no significant postoperative reallocation of ipsilateral memory functions to the contralateral MTL.