Twenty-four undergraduate university students with no known neurological disorders completed the Recognition Memory Test (Warrington, A., 1984. Recognition Memory Test manual. Windsor, Berkshire: NFER-Nelson.) while event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded. Twelve subjects were instructed to feign a recognition memory deficit (malingering group), while the remainder served as controls. The malingerers performed poorly on the test compared to the control group. The 'old/new effect', an ERP measure thought to reflect recognition memory processes, did not differ between the groups, indicating recognition of previously learned material in the malingering group despite poor test performance. The study also revealed a second, early, old/new effect, maximal at left frontal sites in the malingering relative to the control group, suggesting task-related processing differences between the two groups. These effects appear to be of potential value in the detection of malingering of cognitive impairment in the clinical situation. (C) 2000 Published by Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.