Grey matter (GM) volume alterations have been repeatedly demonstrated in patients with first episode psychosis (FEP). Some of these neuroanatomical abnormalities are already evident in the at-risk mental state (ARMS) for psychosis. Not only GM alterations but also neurocognitive impairments predate the onset of frank psychosis with verbal learning and memory (VLM) being among the most impaired domains. Yet, their interconnection with alterations in GM volumes remains ambiguous. Thus, we evaluated associations of different subcortical GM volumes in the medial temporal lobe with VLM performance in antipsychotic-naïve ARMS and FEP patients. Data from 59 ARMS and 31 FEP patients, collected within the prospective Früherkennung von Psychosen study, were analysed. Structural T1-weighted images were acquired using a 3 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging scanner. VLM was assessed using the California Verbal Learning Test and its factors Attention Span, Learning Efficiency, Delayed Memory and Inaccurate Memory. FEP patients showed significantly enlarged volumes of hippocampus, pallidum, putamen and thalamus compared to ARMS patients. A significant negative association between amygdala and pallidum volume and Attention Span was found in ARMS and FEP patients combined, which however did not withstand correction for multiple testing. Although we found significant between-group differences in subcortical volumes and VLM is among the most impaired cognitive domains in emerging psychosis, we could not demonstrate an association between low performance and subcortical GM volumes alterations in antipsychotic-naïve patients. Hence, deficits in this domain do not appear to stem from alterations in subcortical structures.