We assessed the effects of oral treatments of ESP-102, a standardized combined extract of Angelica gigas, Saururus chinensis and Schizandra chinensis, on learning and memory deficit. The cognition-enhancing effect of ESP-102 was investigated in scopolamine-induced (1 mg/kg body weight, s.c.) amnesic mice with both passive avoidance and Morris water maze performance tests. Acute oral treatment (single administration prior to scopolamine treatment) of mice with ESP-102 (doses in the range of 10 to 100 mg/kg body weight) significantly reduced scopolamine-induced memory deficits in the passive avoidance performance test. Another noteworthy result included the fact that prolonged oral daily treatments of mice with much lower amounts of ESP-102 (1 and 10 mg/kg body weight) for ten days reversed scopolamine-induced memory deficits. In the Morris water maze performance test, both acute and prolonged oral treatments with ESP-102 (single administration of 100 mg/kg body weight or prolonged daily administration of 1 and 10 mg/kg body weight for ten days, respectively, significantly ameliorated scopolamine-induced memory deficits as indicated by the formation of long-term and/or short-term spatial memory. In addition, we investigated the effects of ESP-102 on neurotoxicity induced by amyloid-beta peptide (Abeta25-35) or glutamate in primary cultured cortical neurons of rats. Pretreatment of cultures with ESP-102 (0.001, 0.01 and 0.1 mug/ml) significantly protected neurons from neurotoxicity induced by either glutamate or Abeta25-35. These results suggest that ESP-102 may have some protective characteristics against neuronal cell death and cognitive impairments often observed in Alzheimer's disease, stroke, ischemic injury and other neurodegenerative diseases.