In this study, we investigated retrieval from verbal episodic memory using a self-paced event-related fMRI paradigm, similar to the designs typically used in behavioral studies of memory function. We tested the hypothesis that the medial temporal lobe (MTL) is involved in the actual recovery of verbal information (retrieval success) rather than in the attempt to retrieve information (retrieval attempt). To this end, we used a verbal recognition task, distinguishing correctly recognized words, correctly rejected words, and a low-level baseline condition. Directly contrasting correct recognition with correct rejection of words, we found activation in the left fusiform/parahippocampal gyrus, indicating that this region has a distinct role in the successful retrieval of verbal information. Furthermore, our results were in agreement with those of previous imaging studies that compared a fixed-paced verbal recognition task to a baseline condition, showing activation in bilateral inferior frontal cortex, left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, left anterior insular cortex, and anterior cingulate. This demonstrates the applicability of a self-paced event-related design within imaging studies of memory function.