Event-related potential (ERP) correlates of the serial position effect in short-term memory were investigated using a memory scanning task. Nine normal young adults (18-39 years) indicated whether a probe item was a member of a previously presented 5-item memory set by pressing 1 of 2 reaction-time buttons. Three types of stimuli were used: verbal digits presented both auditorily and visually, and musical notes presented auditorily. The ERPs to the probes were separately averaged according to the serial position of the probe (1, 2, 3, 4 or 5) in the memory set. The ERPs to the memory set items in positions 1, 3 and 5 also were separately averaged. Both baseline-to-peak and average amplitudes of a late positive parietal potential to the probes were larger to probe items presented in the last position in the memory set than to probes presented in the middle positions (2, 3 and 4), showing a significant recency effect, but only for auditory digits. Reaction time reflected significant recency effects for both auditory digits and notes, but not for visual digits. Response accuracy (percent correct) showed a significant recency effect only for notes. For each stimulus type, both the baseline-to-peak and average amplitudes of a late frontal component to the memory set items became more negative (in the case of the visual digits, less positive) in the third and last serial position of the memory set compared to the first. These findings provide electrophysiological evidence of serial position effects in short-term memory, which, during memory scanning, are dependent on stimulus modality (auditory, visual) and type (verbal, non-verbal).