Children born preterm and of very low birth weight have an increased incidence of learning difficulties, but little is known about the specific nature of their cognitive deficits and the underlying neuropathology. We hypothesized that their vulnerability to hypoxic, metabolic, and nutritional insults would lead to reduced hippocampal volumes and to deficits in memory because of the role of the hippocampus in this domain of cognition. Neuropsychological and magnetic resonance imaging methods were used to investigate this hypothesis in adolescents born preterm (< or = 30 wk gestation, n = 11) or full-term (n = 8). The preterm group had significantly smaller hippocampal volumes bilaterally, despite equivalent head size, and showed specific deficits in certain aspects of everyday memory, both on objective testing and as indicated by parental questionnaires. The preterm group also had a specific deficit in numeracy. The reduced hippocampal volumes and deficits in everyday memory have previously been unrecognized, but their prevalence in a group of neurologically normal children is striking.