Reports of memory impairment after cardiac surgery are controversial. To address this controversy, we used positron emission tomography to examine changes in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) during memory processing before and after elective coronary artery bypass grafting surgery. In postoperative scans, we observed significantly reduced rCBF in 2 of the most important memory processing areas: the medial temporal lobe (P = 0.023) and the prefrontal cortex (P = 0.002). The results suggest postoperative attenuation of rCBF in brain areas involved in memory processing. These reductions could be used to evaluate severity of memory impairment after coronary artery bypass grafting surgery in patients at risk.