We have developed a variant of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) designed to be sensitive to static neuronal function. This method is based on resting instead of dynamic changes in oxygen-dependent signal and therefore allows for a spatial resolution that can detect signal from different hippocampal subregions in human subjects as well as in mice. We found that hippocampal signal was significantly diminished in elderly subjects with memory decline compared to age-matched controls, and different subjects showed dysfunction in different subregions. Among healthy elders, signal intensity from the subiculum was correlated selectively with memory performance. This method does not require an activation task; it can be used in anesthetized normal and in genetically modified and cognitively impaired mice. In mice the signal was found to be sufficiently sensitive to detect functional changes in the absence of underlying anatomical changes.