Multiple strands of evidence suggest a role for Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. It is not yet clear, however, how BDNF may contribute to altered brain function seen in the disorder, or in those at high genetic risk. The current study examines functional imaging correlates of the BDNF val66met polymorphism in a population at high genetic risk of schizophrenia. Subjects at high genetic risk for the disorder (n = 58) provided both BDNF genotyping and fMRI data while performing a verbal memory task. During encoding, participants were presented with a word and asked to make a 'living'/'non-living' classification. During retrieval, individuals were requested to make an 'old'/'new' word classification. For encoding, we report decreased activation of the inferior occipital cortex and a trend in the cingulate cortex in Val homozygote individuals relative to Met carriers. For retrieval, we report decreases in activation in the prefrontal, cingulate cortex and bilateral posterior parietal regions in Val homozygote individuals versus Met carriers. These findings add to previous evidence suggesting that genetic variation in the BDNF gene modulates prefrontal and limbic functioning and suggests that it may contribute to differences in brain function seen in those at high risk of the disorder. (c) 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.