The structural and functional brain circuitries supporting episodic memory undergo profound reorganization in childhood and old age. We propose a two-component framework that combines and integrates evidence from child development and aging. It posits that episodic memory builds on two interacting components: (a) the strategic component, which refers to memory control operations, and (b) the associative component, which refers to mechanisms that bind different features of a memory episode into a compound representation. We hypothesize that: (a) children's difficulties in episodic memory primarily originate from low levels of strategic operations, and reflect the protracted development of the prefrontal cortex (PFC); (b) deficits in episodic memory performance among older adults originate from impairments in both strategic and associative components, reflecting senescent changes in the PFC and the medio-temporal lobes (MTL). Initial behavioral and neural evidence is consistent with both hypotheses. The two-component framework highlights the specificities of episodic memory in different age periods, helps to identify and dissociate its components, and contributes to understanding the interplay among maturation, learning, and senescence.