These experiments examined the effects, on retention, of posttraining intra-amygdala administration of norepinephrine (NE), and propranolol. Rats were trained on a one-trial step-through inhibitory avoidance task and tested for retention 24 h later. Injections were administered bilaterally (1.0 microliter/injection) through chronically-implanted cannulae. Low doses of NE (0.1 or 0.3 microgram) administered shortly after training enhanced retention while higher doses (1.0 or 5.0 micrograms) were ineffective. Retention was not affected by NE administered 3 h after training. The effect of intra-amygdala NE on retention is blocked by simultaneous administration of propranolol (0.2 microgram). This finding suggests that the memory-enhancing effect of NE may be mediated by beta-receptors. Posttraining intra-amygdala NE also attenuated the retention deficit produced by adrenal demedullation. Further, intra-amygdala injections of propranolol (0.2 microgram) blocked the enhancing effect, on retention, of posttraining s.c. injections of epinephrine. These findings suggest that activation of noradrenergic receptors in the amygdala may be involved in memory processing and may play a role in the memory-modulating effect of peripheral epinephrine.