Memories that can be recalled several hours after learning may paradoxically become inaccessible for brief periods after their formation. This raises major questions about the function of these early memory lapses in the structure of memory consolidation. These questions are difficult to investigate because of the lack of information on the precise timing of lapses. However, the use of a single-trial conditioning paradigm in Lymnaea solves this problem. Here we use electrophysiological and behavioural experiments to reveal lapses in memory recall at 30 min and 2 h post conditioning. We show that only during these lapses is consolidation of long-term memory susceptible to interruption by external disturbance. These shared time points of memory lapse and susceptibility correspond to transitions between different phases of memory that have different molecular requirements. We propose that during periods of molecular transition memory recall is weakened, allowing novel sensory cues to block the consolidation of long-term memory.