L-carnitine is of considerable interest because of its capacity to counteract several physiological and pathological phenomena typical of brain aging processes. We examined the effects of L-carnitine on the learning ability of old rats. 100 mg/kg per body weight per day L-carnitine was administered orally to old (21 months) male Sprague-Dawley rats (OLD-CAR) for a period of 2 months. Old (21 months, OLD-CO) and young (7 months, YG-CO) control animals received tap water exclusively. Performance of the OLD-CAR and OLD-CO was compared with that of YG-CO in a multiple T-maze. The mean run time values showed a significant (P=0.01) difference of the OLD-CAR rats to the OLD-CO but no significant differences between OLD-CAR and YG-CO. For the T-maze parameter mean correct responses we were able to demonstrate that L-carnitine treated old rats made significantly (P=0.03) less errors and significantly (P=0.01) more animals reached the T-maze goal compared with OLD-CO but no significant differences were observed between OLD-CAR and YG-CO. The results of the present study clearly demonstrate that carnitine treatment improves the learning ability of old rats and seems to be able to reduce the loss of cognitive functions that occur with aging.