Cross-sectional studies of chronic PTSD reveal deficits in verbal memory. We studied cognitive functioning and its relationship to current and subsequent PTSD severity during an early phase of trauma response. Thirty-eight participants with traumatic injuries and only posttrauma incident psychopathology were evaluated shortly after admission to a Level I Trauma Center. Neuropsychological measures were obtained at baseline and assessment of PTSD and other psychiatric disorders was conducted at baseline and follow-up, 6 weeks later. Significant negative correlations were found for follow-up PTSD severity with delayed recall and retroactive interference. These relationships were not significant for, and were independent of, baseline PTSD severity. Relative deficits in select areas of verbal memory after a trauma may confer greater risk for developing PTSD.