This study investigated event-related potential (ERP) effects when judgments about temporal context (recency judgments) required the retrieval of different amount of information. Subjects studied two consecutively presented word lists and at test made recency judgments to word pairs composed of two previously studied words, one drawn from each list (‘Old + Old different’ pairs), both drawn from the same list (‘Old + Old same’ pairs), or two unstudied words (‘New + New’ pairs). A frontopolar old/new effect was elicited by correct recency judgments which did not differ between both Bold + Old’ pairs. This finding suggests that the generators of the frontopolar old/new effect are not sensitive to the differing retrieval demands required here. However, an old/new effect over left inferior temporal electrodes was larger for ‘Old + Old same’ than for ‘Old + Old different’ pairs. The significance of these old/new effects are discussed in relation to the broader pattern of old/new effects seen in standard tests of declarative memory retrieval. (C) 2004 Published by Elsevier B.V.