Time-dependent effects of ethanolic extract of Boswellia papyrifera, administered systemically, on spatial memory retention in the Morris water maze were investigated in male rats. A total extract of Boswellia papyrifera (300 mg/kg) was administered every eight hours to three groups of rats by gavage for 1, 2 and 4 weeks. In a separate set of experiments, three doses of a fraction of the extract, called the boswellic acids (100, 200 and 300 mg/kg) were administered by gavage to three groups of rats three times a day for 2 weeks. Following these applications, animals were trained for 4 days. Behavioral testing for evaluation of spatial memory retention was performed 48 h after completion of training. Boswellia papyrifera extracts and boswellic acids caused a significant reduction in escape latency and distance traveled but had no influence on swimming speed. These findings provide evidence that Boswellia papyrifera extracts affect spatial memory retention irrespective of the treatment period. In addition our data show that systemic administration of the boswellic acids fraction enhanced spatial memory retention in a dose-dependent manner. These improving effects may be due to some extent to the interactions of these products with inflammatory mediators, neurotransmitter signaling cascades or protein kinase pathways in the brain.