We used PET to identify brain regions associated with retention of verbal materials in long-term memory. During a PET scan, subjects repeated many sets of words one after another. In a retention condition, they were simultaneously required to retain 10 key words that were irrelevant to the repetition task. Significant increases in regional cerebral blood flow during the retention condition were found in bilateral parahippocampal regions, the left prefrontal and parietal association cortices, the supplementary motor area, the neostriatum and the cerebellum. We clearly demonstrated that retention of verbal materials was accompanied by neural activities in the medial temporal lobes. We also showed that, in the early phase, retention of words in long-term memory recruited left cortical areas surrounding those relevant to verbal short-term memory.