DBA/2J (D2) mice display poor contextual learning and have less membrane-bound hippocampal protein kinase C (PKC) compared with C57BL/6 (B6) mice. Aniracetam and oxiracetam were previously shown to improve contextual learning in D2 mice and increase PKC activity. This study investigated a possible mechanism for learning enhancement by examining the effects of aniracetam on contextual fear conditioning and activation of the y isoform of PKC (gamma-PKC) in male D2 mice. In comparison to animals treated with vehicle only (10% 2-hydroxypropyl-beta-cyclodextrin), mice treated with aniracetam (100 mg/kg) 30 min prior to fear conditioning training demonstrated significantly improved contextual learning when tested 30 min and 24 h after training. This corresponded with a significant increase in activated, membrane-bound hippocampal gamma-PKC 30 min after training. No increase in learning or gamma-PKC was found 5 min after training. These results suggest an altered time course of activation of gamma-PKC in response to treatment with aniracetam, which improves learning in D2 mice.