INTRODUCTION: 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, "ecstasy") is a recreational club drug with supposed neurotoxic effects selectively on the serotonin system. MDMA users consistently exhibit memory dysfunction but there is an ongoing debate if these deficits are induced mainly by alterations in the prefrontal or mediotemporal cortex, especially the hippocampus. Thus, we investigated the relation of verbal memory deficits with alterations of regional cerebral brain glucose metabolism (rMRGlu) in recreational MDMA users. METHODS: Brain glucose metabolism in rest was assessed using 2-deoxy-2-((18)F)fluoro-D-glucose positron emission tomography ((18)FDG PET) in 19 male recreational users of MDMA and 19 male drug-naïve controls. (18)FDG PET data were correlated with memory performance assessed with a German version of the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test. RESULTS: As previously shown, MDMA users showed significant impairment in verbal declarative memory performance. PET scans revealed significantly decreased rMRGlu in the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal and inferior parietal cortex, bilateral thalamus, right hippocampus, right precuneus, right cerebellum, and pons (at the level of raphe nuclei) of MDMA users. Among MDMA users, learning and recall were positively correlated with rMRGlu predominantly in bilateral frontal and parietal brain regions, while recognition was additionally related to rMRGlu in the right mediotemporal and bihemispheric lateral temporal cortex. Moreover, cumulative lifetime dose of MDMA was negatively correlated with rMRGlu in the left dorsolateral and bilateral orbital and medial PFC, left inferior parietal and right lateral temporal cortex. CONCLUSIONS: Verbal learning and recall deficits of recreational MDMA users are correlated with glucose hypometabolism in prefrontal and parietal cortex, while word recognition was additionally correlated with mediotemporal hypometabolism. We conclude that memory deficits of MDMA users arise from combined fronto-parieto-mediotemporal dysfunction.