Objective: To examine subjective versus objective memory change after anterior temporal lobectomy (ATL). Methods: A prospective, controlled study. Controls included 39 unoperated patients with intractable temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) who were administered a series of cognitive and health-related quality of life measures at baseline and at 12-month follow-up intervals. The surgery sample included 65 patients with intractable, focal TLE who had undergone either a right or left ATL. These patients were tested preoperatively and at 6-month follow-up intervals. Subjective and objective memory change was quantified using a newly developed methodology to control for practice effect and regression to the mean. Results: Measures of subjective and objective memory change were not significantly related in the surgery sample. Prevalence of significant subjective memory decline 1 year after surgery ranged from 3 to 7%, whereas prevalence of significant objective memory decline ranged from 26 to 55%. Postoperative levels of emotional distress significantly predicted self-reported memory decline 1 year after ATL. Postoperative medication side effect and seizure outcome were also related significantly to subjective memory change in patients who had undergone left ATL. Conclusions: Subjective and objective memory change after temporal lobectomy are not related. Complaints of significant memory decline after ATL are infrequent and may serve as a marker for depression or other mood disorder rather than organically based memory decline.