This review begins with a brief historical overview of attempts in the first half of the 20th century to discern brain systems that underlie emotion and emotional behavior. These early studies identified the amygdala, hippocampus, and other parts of what was termed the 'limbic' system as central parts of the emotional brain. Detailed connectional data on this system began to be obtained in the 1970s and 1980s, as more effective neuroanatomical techniques based on axonal transport became available. In the last 15 years these methods have been applied extensively to the limbic system and prefrontal cortex of monkeys, and much more specific circuits have been defined. In particular, a system has been described that links the medial prefrontal cortex and a few related cortical areas to the amygdala, the ventral striatum and pallidum, the medial thalamus, the hypothalamus, and the periaqueductal gray and other parts of the brainstem. A large body of human data from functional and structural imaging, as well as analysis of lesions and histological material indicates that this system is centrally involved in mood disorders.