Cyclophilin D (CypD, encoded by Ppif) is an integral part of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore, whose opening leads to cell death. Here we show that interaction of CypD with mitochondrial amyloid-beta protein (Abeta) potentiates mitochondrial, neuronal and synaptic stress. The CypD-deficient cortical mitochondria are resistant to Abeta- and Ca(2+)-induced mitochondrial swelling and permeability transition. Additionally, they have an increased calcium buffering capacity and generate fewer mitochondrial reactive oxygen species. Furthermore, the absence of CypD protects neurons from Abeta- and oxidative stress-induced cell death. Notably, CypD deficiency substantially improves learning and memory and synaptic function in an Alzheimer's disease mouse model and alleviates Abeta-mediated reduction of long-term potentiation. Thus, the CypD-mediated mitochondrial permeability transition pore is directly linked to the cellular and synaptic perturbations observed in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Blockade of CypD may be a therapeutic strategy in Alzheimer's disease.