Positron emission tomography measurements of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) were performed in normal volunteers during two auditory--verbal memory tasks: a subspan and supraspan task. The difference in rCBF between tasks was used to identify brain areas/systems involved in auditory--verbal long-term memory. Increases in rCBF were observed in the left and right prefrontal cortex, precuneus and the retrosplenial area of the cingulate gyrus. Decreases in blood flow were centred in the superior temporal gyrus bilaterally. Separate comparisons were also made between each span task and a resting state. Brain regions showing increases in rCBF in these comparisons included the thalamus, left anterior cingulate, right parahippocampal gyrus, cerebellum and the superior temporal gyrus. The brain areas identified in these comparison define a number of the neuroanatomical components of a distributed system for signal processing and storage relevant to auditory--verbal memory function.