The effects of the nootropic drugs Piracetam (Pir) and Pramiracetam (Pram) were evaluated on recognition-memory of rats in a new one-trial test. This test is based on spontaneous exploratory activity and does not involve rule learning or reinforcement. Recognition is measured by the time spent by rats in exploring two different objects, one familiar (the sample), the other new. When the retention interval is 1 min, normal rats spend more time exploring the new object which demonstrates that they recognize the familiar one, but they do not discriminate between the two objects after a 24-h interval. Three doses of Pram (15, 30 and 60 mg/kg) and Pir (100, 200 and 400 mg/kg) were administered i.p. 30 min before the acquisition trial. The doses of 30 mg/kg of Pram and of 400 mg/kg of Pir produced a significant improvement in retention when the intertrial interval was 24 h. This effect was not associated with a change in overall exploratory behavior. This study shows that the new object-recognition test may be a useful tool for pharmacological studies of memory in rats.