Two memory-impaired patients, who had suffered damage to the left or both fornix columns during removal of a ventricular cyst, were compared with 3 others having left-sided hippocampal or thalamic lesions, and with normal controls. The tests used were nonverbal--scene recognition, delayed matching-to-sample and concurrent pattern and object discrimination learning. The last two are differentially sensitive to fornix transection and to hippocampal or thalamic ablations in monkeys; however, the patients with fornix damage did not show a distinctive pattern of impairment. The reasons for this discrepancy are discussed. The study adds to the evidence that fornix transection can cause wide-ranging memory disturbances in man.