The administration of a glucose drink has been shown to enhance cognitive performance with effect sizes comparable with those from pharmaceutical interventions in human trials. In the memory domain, it is currently debated whether glucose facilitation of performance is due to differential targeting of hippocampal memory or whether task effort is a more important determinant. Using a placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover 2(Drink: glucose/placebo) × 2(Effort: ± secondary task) design, 20 healthy young adults' recognition memory performance was measured using the ‘remember-know’ procedure. Two high effort conditions (one for each drink) included secondary hand movements during word presentation. A 25 g glucose or 30 mg saccharine (placebo) drink was consumed 10 min prior to the task. The presence of a secondary task resulted in a global impairment of memory function. There were significant Drink × Effort interactions for overall memory accuracy but no differential effects for ‘remember’ or ‘know’ responses. These data suggest that, in some circumstances, task effort may be a more important determinant of the glucose facilitation of memory effect than hippocampal mediation.