The authors examined the neural and cognitive bases for sex differences in verbal memory in 57 patients who underwent left anterior temporal lobectomy (ATL) for the treatment of intractable seizures. On the California Verbal Learning Test (D. C. Delis, J. H. Kramer, E. Kaplan, & B. A. Ober, 1987), women recalled more words than men both before and after surgery, regardless of the extent of hippocampal damage. Extent of hippocampal sclerosis was related to memory loss in both men and women. Women's superiority in verbal memory appears to result in part from their use of an efficient encoding strategy. Women were more likely than men to use semantic clustering both before and after ATL, and sex differences in word recall were attenuated after scores were adjusted for semantic clustering. There was no effect of ATL on semantic clustering. Taken together, these results suggest that sex differences in verbal memory are not due to differences in the integrity of the left hippocampus.