Neuropsychological assessment is a useful adjunct in the evaluation of temporal lobe epilepsy surgery candidates because it demonstrates relative impairment of either verbal or visual-spatial learning. We examined material-specific learning during the preoperative neuropsychological evaluation in a series of temporal lobectomy candidates. Four tests were administered, two designed to assess verbal learning (Selective Reminding and Serial Digit Learning) and two to measure visual-spatial learning (Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure and Form Sequence Learning). Accurate prediction of seizure onset was most reliable when a consistent dissociation between verbal and visual-spatial memory performances existed for all tests of material-specific learning. The results suggest that multiple measures of material-specific memory constructs should be obtained when attempting to assess relative memory impairment associated with unilateral temporal lobe seizure onset. © 1988 Demos Publications.