Neural stimuli associated with traumatic events can readily become conditioned so as to reinstate the memory of the original trauma. These conditioned fear responses can last a lifetime and may be especially resistant to extinction. A large amount of data from many different laboratories indicate that the amygdala plays a crucial role in conditioned fear. The amygdala receives information from all sensory modalities and projects to a variety of hypothalamic and brainstem target areas known to be critically involved in specific signs that are used to define fear and anxiety. Electrical stimulation of the amygdala elicits a pattern of behaviours that mimic natural or conditioned states of fear. Lesions of the amygdala block innate or conditioned fear and local infusion of drugs into the amygdala have anxiolytic effects in several behavioural tests. Excitatory amino acid receptors in the amygdala are critical for the acquisition, expression and extinction of conditioned fear.