A central goal of neuroscience is to understand how neural circuits encode memory and guide behaviour. Studying simple, genetically tractable organisms, such as Drosophila melanogaster, can illuminate principles of neural circuit organization and function. Early genetic dissection of D. melanogaster olfactory memory focused on individual genes and molecules. These molecular tags subsequently revealed key neural circuits for memory. Recent advances in genetic technology have allowed us to manipulate and observe activity in these circuits, and even individual neurons, in live animals. The studies have transformed D. melanogaster from a useful organism for gene discovery to an ideal model to understand neural circuit function in memory.