Neurofunctional alterations in acute posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and changes thereof during the course of the disease are not well investigated. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to assess the functional neuroanatomy of emotional memory in surgical patients with acute PTSD. Traumatic (relative to non-traumatic) memories increased neural activity in the amygdala, hippocampus, lateral temporal, retrosplenial, and anterior cingulate cortices. These regions are all implicated in memory and emotion. A comparison of findings with data on chronic PTSD suggests that brain circuits affected by the acute disorder are extended and unstable while chronic disease is characterized by circumscribed and stable neurofunctional abnormalities.