The ability to discriminate among similar experiences is a crucial feature of episodic memory. This ability has long been hypothesized to require the hippocampus, and computational models suggest that it is dependent on pattern separation. However, empirical data for the role of the hippocampus in pattern separation have not been available until recently. This review summarizes data from electrophysiological recordings, lesion studies, immediate-early gene imaging, transgenic mouse models, as well as human functional neuroimaging, that provide convergent evidence for the involvement of particular hippocampal subfields in this key process. We discuss the impact of aging and adult neurogenesis on pattern separation, and also highlight several challenges to linking across species and approaches, and suggest future directions for investigation.