It has been well established that the hippocampal formation plays a critical role in the formation of memories. However, functional specialization within the hippocampus remains controversial. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during a face-name associative encoding task, followed by a postscan recognition test for face memory and face-name pair memory, we investigated the roles of anterior and posterior hippocampal regions in successful encoding of associations and items. Whole-brain and region of interest (ROI) analyses revealed that the anterior hippocampal formation showed increased activation for subsequently remembered face-name associations compared with pairs that were forgotten. In contrast, the posterior hippocampal formation showed activation above baseline during attempted encoding of face-name pairs, but no evidence of differential activation based on subsequent memory. Furthermore, exploratory whole-brain analyses revealed that a parahippocampal region, most likely corresponding to perirhinal cortex, showed subsequent memory effects for faces. These data provide evidence for functional specialization within the hippocampal formation based on the associative nature of the stimuli and subsequent memory. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.