The hippocampal memory system, consisting of the hippocampal formation and the adjacent parahippocampal region, is known to play an important role in learning and memory processes. In recent years, evidence from a variety of experimental approaches indicates that each of the constituting fields of the hippocampal memory system may serve functionally different, yet complementary roles. Understanding the anatomical organization of cortico-parahippocampal-hippocampal connectivity may lead to a further understanding of these potential functional differences. In the present paper we present the two main conclusions of experiments in which we studied the anatomical organization of the hippocampal memory system of the rat in detail, with a focus on the pivotal position of the entorhinal cortex. We first conclude that the simple traditional view of the entorhinal cortex as simply the input and output structure of the hippocampal formation needs to be modified. Second, our data indicate the existence of two parallel pathways through the hippocampal memory system, arising from the perirhinal and postrhinal cortex. These two parallel pathways may be involved in separately processing functionally different types of sensory information. This second proposition will be subsequently evaluated on the basis of series of electrophysiological studies we carried out in rats and some preliminary functional brain imaging studies in humans.