In this study, brain activation associated with forward and backward digit recall was examined in healthy old and young adults using functional MRI. A number of areas were activated during the recall. In young adults, greater activation was found in the left prefrontal cortex (BA9) and the left occipital visual cortex during backward digit recall than forward digit recall. In contrast, the activation in the right inferior frontal gyrus (BA 44/45) was more extensive in forward digit recall than in backward digit recall. In older adults, backward recall generated stronger activation than forward recall in most areas, including the frontal, the parietal, the occipital, and the temporal cortices. In the backward recall condition, the right inferior frontal gyrus (BA44/45) showed more activation in the old group than in the young group. These results suggest that different neural mechanisms may be involved in forward and backward digit recall and brain functions associated with these two types of recall are differentially affected by aging.