The present study investigated how spatial working memory recruits early visual cortex. Participants were required to maintain a location in working memory while changes in blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signals were measured during the retention interval in which no visual stimulation was present. We show working memory effects during the retention period in early visual cortex which were retinotopically organized in the sense that evoked BOLD responses were specific to the position of the remembered location on an imaginary clock. We demonstrate that this activity is similar to activity observed in conditions in which participants have to direct spatial attention to the same location. We suggest that during the retention interval modulation of neurons coding the remembered location evoke a baseline shift, providing converging evidence for the notion that spatial working memory may use spatial attention as a rehearsal mechanism. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.