The effect of environmental context on episodic memory was examined in two free recall experiments with groups of old and young subjects. All subjects studied a list of unrelated words and were subsequently tested in the same room or in a different room. The results of Experiment 1 showed an advantage of being tested in the same context for the old subjects, but no effects of the context manipulation for the young subjects. Experiment 2 replicated this finding and additionally showed that old subjects (but not young subjects) benefited from instructions to mentally reinstate the learning context. The results of both experiments are discussed in terms of the relative value of contextual cues for subjects in each of the two age groups. Key words: Environmental context, free recall, aging.