Conditioned place preference (CPP) is a learning paradigm requiring formation of associations between reward and particular locations. White and McDonald (Behav Brain Res 1993;55:269-281) demonstrated that amygdala (AMG) lesions impair, while fornix (Fx) lesions enhance learning of this task. In the present experiments, we replicated the effects of AMG and Fx lesions, but we also found that complete hippocampal (HPC) lesions interfere with normal performance. Thus, the effects of Fx and HPC lesions on CPP are opposite. This is in contrast with spatial learning in the water maze. Because it has been demonstrated that damage of dorsal HPC interferes to a greater extent with spatial learning than damage of ventral HPC, we also tested animals with either dorsal or ventral HPC disruptions on CPP. Lesions limited to dorsal HPC were followed by impairment on this task. In contrast, lesions limited to ventral HPC resulted in enhanced learning. We argue that Fx and HPC lesions do not have interchangeable effects in all learning paradigms. To explain the complex pattern of results presently obtained, we propose a novel hypothesis regarding behavioral functions of HPC neural circuits. Implications regarding the interaction between memory systems are also considered.