What happens to memories as days, weeks and years go by has long been a fundamental question in neuroscience and psychology. For decades, researchers have attempted to identify the brain regions in which memory is formed and to follow its changes across time. The theory of systems consolidation of memory (SCM) suggests that changes in circuitry and brain networks are required for the maintenance of a memory with time. Various mechanisms by which such changes may take place have been hypothesized. Recently, several studies have provided insight into the brain networks driving SCM through the characterization of memory engram cells, their biochemical and physiological changes and the circuits in which they operate. In this Review, we place these findings in the context of the field and describe how they have led to a revamped understanding of SCM in the brain.