Studies of the non-human temporal lobe, particularly the hippocampus, confirm its significant role in learning and memory, particularly allocentric spatial mapping of the environment. The role of the human temporal lobes in topographical orientation was investigated by examining the formation of representations of a large-scale real-world environment after unilateral left and right temporal lobe surgery. Patients and normal control subjects viewed videotape presentations of overlapping routes through a novel urban area. Topographical orientation was then assessed across a range of parameters. Right temporal lobe lesions alone gave rise to deficits in making proximity judgements. However, on all other topographical orientation tasks both right and left temporal lobe lesion groups were impaired relative to the normal control group, but the two patient groups did not differ significantly from each other. These findings suggest that such is the nature of remembering and way-finding in the environment that the integrity of both human temporal lobes is required.