Memory dysfunction following mild human traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common clinical observation, but the pathologic substrate underlying this loss of function has not been well-characterized. In the present study, we examined the effects of a mild lateral fluid percussion (FP) brain injury on memory dysfunction, neuronal cell loss in specific regions of the hippocampus, and breakdown of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). A Morris Water Maze (MWM) memory paradigm was used to assess memory retention in rats 42 h after lateral FP brain injury (n = 11) or sham injury (n = 10). At the completion of cognitive testing, animals were sacrificed and neuronal cell loss in the hippocampi was examined with Nissl staining. Immunoreactivity to anti-rat IgG was used to evaluate the extent of BBB disruption. A significant correlation was observed between posttraumatic memory scores and neuronal loss in the hilus of the dentate gyrus (p < 0.005). To our knowledge, these observations are the first to suggest an association between cognitive deficits following a mild experimental brain injury and neuropathological changes in the hippocampus.