In two experiments, the time course of the expression of fear in trace (hippocampus-dependent) versus delay (hippocampus-independent) conditioning was characterized with a high degree of temporal specificity using fear-potentiated startle. In experiment 1, groups of rats were given delay fear conditioning or trace fear conditioning with a 3- or 12-sec trace interval between conditioned stimulus (CS) offset and unconditioned stimulus (US) onset. During test, the delay group showed fear-potentiated startle in the presence of the CS but not after its offset, whereas the trace groups showed fear-potentiated startle both during the CS and after its offset. Experiment 2 compared the time course of fear expression after trace conditioning with the time course in two delay conditioning groups: one matched to the trace conditioning group with respect to CS duration, and the other with respect to ISI. In all groups, fear was expressed until the scheduled occurrence of the US and returned to baseline rapidly thereafter. Thus, in both trace and delay fear conditioning, ISI is a critical determinant of the time course of fear expression. These results are informative as to the possible role of neural structures, such as the hippocampus, in memory processes related to temporal information.