Prenatal choline supplementation can protect rats against cognitive deficits induced by status epilepticus induced by the cholinergic agent pilocarpine [J. Neurosci. 20 (2000) 1]. In the present day, we have extended this novel finding by investigating the effects of pre- and postnatal choline supplementation in memory deficits associated with status epilepticus induced with kainic acid (KA). In the first experiment pregnant rats received a normal, choline-supplemented, or choline deficient diet starting on the 11th day of gestation and continuing until postnatal (P) 7. At P42, rats were given a convulsant dosage of KA. Two weeks following the KA-induced status epilepticus rats underwent testing of visual-spatial memory using the Morris water maze test. Rats receiving supplemental choline performed better in the water maze than the deficient and control groups. Moreover, the activity of hippocampal choline acetyltransferase was 18% lower in the choline deficient animals as compared with the other two groups. In the second experiment we administered KA to P35 rats that had been given a normal diet. Following the status epilepticus the rats were given a choline-supplemented or control diet for 4 weeks and then tested in the water maze. Rats receiving choline supplementation performed far better than rats receiving a regular diet. This study demonstrates that choline supplementation prior to or following KA-induced status epilepticus can protect rats from memory deficits induced by status epilepticus.