Strong memory of a traumatic event is thought to contribute to the development and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Therefore, a genetic predisposition to build strong memories could lead to increased risk for PTSD after a traumatic event. Here we show that genetic variability of the gene encoding PKCα (PRKCA) was associated with memory capacity--including aversive memory--in nontraumatized subjects of European descent. This finding was replicated in an independent sample of nontraumatized subjects, who additionally underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). fMRI analysis revealed PRKCA genotype-dependent brain activation differences during successful encoding of aversive information. Further, the identified genetic variant was also related to traumatic memory and to the risk for PTSD in heavily traumatized survivors of the Rwandan genocide. Our results indicate a role for PKCα in memory and suggest a genetic link between memory and the risk for PTSD.