Stimulation of the locus coeruleus (LC) and the subsequent release of norepinephrine contribute to memory consolidation processes. Excitatory input to the LC is derived primarily from neurons in the nucleus paragigantocellularis (PGi). The authors examined the effects of activating the pathway between PGi and the LC on memory. Rats received vehicle or the excitatory amino acid glutamate (25, 50, or 100 nmol/0.5 microl) into PGi after training in an inhibitory avoidance (IA) or delayed matching-to-sample (DMS) task. Rats given the 100-nmol dose had significantly longer retention latencies on a 48-hr IA retention test. Rats treated with the 50- or 100-nmol dose made significantly more correct responses than controls on an 18-hr DMS retention test. Results suggest that encoding and storage of memory for emotional and spatial events may be enhanced by activation of neuronal circuits afferent to the LC.