Two different strains of mice, C57BL/6J and BALB/c, with hippocampal, cortical, or sham lesions, underwent contextual fear conditioning. In both strains, contextual fear, as measured by the freezing response, was significantly impaired in hippocampus-lesioned animals compared with sham control animals. Fear conditioning was not affected in the cortical-lesioned group. Moreover, there was a strain difference in fear conditioning: The C57BL/6J mice exhibited freezing more frequently than the BALB/c mice. Consistent with previous hippocampal lesion studies in rats, these results indicate that contextual fear conditioning in mice also requires the intact hippocampus. This study provides a basis for evaluating hippocampal synaptic mechanisms in relation to contextual fear conditioning in widely available gene knockout or transgenic mice.