Hippocampal size and neuron number are reduced in a number of conditions, including temporal lobe epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, a decrease with advancing age has also been suggested. The present study examined the entire hippocampal formation of 12 subjects aged from 46 to 85 years and free from neurological disease. The volume of seven subregions (CA1, CA2-3, CA4, dentate gyrus, subiculum, presubiculum and white matter) was determined and the number of neurons estimated in each of these grey matter subregions using the optical dissector technique. There was a significant relationship between CA1 neuron number and cerebrum volume. Multivariate analysis showed the greater contribution to the variance in CA1 neuron number was made by cerebrum volume (69%) rather than age (2%) or sex (1%). The findings of this study show that, in neurologically normal individuals, brain size is a major determinant of the number of CA1 neurons.