Abstract Standardized verbal and visuo-spatial memory recognition were obtained on 15 patients with unilateral temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), using a reference group of 43 (12 males, 31 females) subjects with no previous history of neurological disease. Inter-ictal measures on these two tasks failed to differentiate between those patients with left vs right seizure foci. When eight of these patients were tested post-ictally (within 1 hr of seizure), seven showed the expected selective memory impairment when compared to inter-ictal performance. Left TLE patients showed a relative lowering of verbal memory, whereas patients with right TLE showed a relative visuo-spatial memory impairment. A similar result was also found in the patients when a comparison between pre-operative (inter-ictal) and post-operative performance was made, thereby further substantiating the validity of the tasks. This significant association between side of seizure focus and selective impairment of post-ictal memory performance provides evidence of a more direct method of neuropsychological diagnosis in TLE patients prior to surgery.