The behavioral effects of the acute and subchronic administration of L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine (alpha-GPC) on passive and active avoidance behavioral tasks were investigated. When administered IP after training together with scopolamine 2 h before retest, alpha-GPC reverses the scopolamine-induced amnesia in the passive avoidance conditioning in young and old rats. Furthermore, the subchronic treatment with alpha-GPC positively and significantly influences the performance of both young and old animals in the active avoidance test. Moreover, in in vitro/ex vivo experiments alpha-GPC potentiates receptor-stimulated phosphatidylinositol hydrolysis in cortical synaptoneurosomes derived from young and old animals. In young but not old animals, alpha-GPC significantly potentiates potassium (40 mM)-stimulated intrasynaptosomal calcium oscillations in purified synaptosomes derived from the hippocampus. These results show that alpha-GPC improves the performance of animals in both active and passive conditioning tasks. Furthermore, subchronic treatment with the compound enhances in young and restores in aged animals the transduction of the signal, namely, the receptor-mediated production of inositol phosphate and the potassium-induced calcium mobilization. These modifications may represent at least part of the molecular mechanism of action of the compound.