To study brain regions involved in familiarity discrimination, rats were shown sets of novel and familiar objects. On each trial two objects were shown simultaneously to a rat so that one eye saw a novel object while the other saw a familiar object. Thus novel and familiar objects were seen with the same conditions of alertness and eye movements. Activated neurones were revealed by staining for products of the immediate early gene c-fos. Familiar stimuli activated significantly fewer neurones than novel stimuli in perirhinal cortex and area TE of temporal cortex, and the ventral lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus, but not in the hippocampus or other areas sampled. These findings are discussed in relation to recognition memory.