The hallmark of medial temporal lobe amnesia is a loss of episodic memory such that patients fail to remember new events that are set in an autobiographical context (an episode). A further symptom is a loss of recognition memory. The relationship between these two features has recently become contentious. Here, we focus on the central issue in this dispute--the relative contributions of the hippocampus and the perirhinal cortex to recognition memory. A resolution is vital not only for uncovering the neural substrates of these key aspects of memory, but also for understanding the processes disrupted in medial temporal lobe amnesia and the validity of animal models of this syndrome.