It is well established that healthy aging, amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI), and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) are associated with substantial declines in episodic memory. However, there is still debate as to how two forms of episodic memory – recollection and familiarity – are affected by healthy and pathological aging. To address this issue we conducted a meta-analytic review of the effect sizes reported in studies using remember/know (RK), receiver operating characteristic (ROC) and process dissociation (PD) methods to examine recollection and familiarity in healthy aging (25 published reports), aMCI (9 published reports), and AD (5 published reports). The results from the meta-analysis revealed that healthy aging is associated with moderate-to-large recollection impairments. Familiarity was not impaired in studies using ROC or PD methods but was impaired in studies that used the RK procedure. aMCI was associated with large decreases in recollection whereas familiarity only tended to show a decrease in studies with a patient sample comprised of both single-domain and multiple-domain aMCI patients. Lastly, AD was associated with large decreases in both recollection and familiarity. The results are consistent with neuroimaging evidence suggesting that the hippocampus is critical for recollection whereas familiarity is dependent on the integrity of the surrounding perirhinal cortex. Moreover, the results highlight the relevance of method selection when examining aging, and suggest that familiarity deficits might be a useful behavioral marker for identifying individuals that will develop dementia.