The role of the dorsal hippocampus in contextual fear conditioning was investigated with a contextual blocking paradigm. In Experiment 1, rats were given pairings of a light conditioned stimulus (CS) and footshock after preexposure either to footshock or to the context alone. The group preexposed to footshock showed poorer fear conditioning to the light CS, as measured by the fear-potentiated startle reflex. In Experiment 2, a group preexposed to footshock in the same context showed poorer fear conditioning to the light CS than did a group preexposed to footshock in a different context, indicating contextual blocking of fear-potentiated startle. In Experiment 3, lesions of the dorsal hippocampus had no effect on contextual blocking, even though contextual freezing was disrupted. The sparing of contextual blocking indicated that contextual memory was intact following hippocampal lesions, despite the disruption of contextual freezing.