Intranasal irrigation of mice with 0.17 M ZnSO4 solution results in the immediate and total loss of the ability to find a buried food pellet. This anosmia persists for 6 weeks in at least 80% of the treated mice and for 4 months in half of the animals. This marked behavioral effect is matched by a long-term reduction of the levels of carnosine synthesis and transport in the primary olfactory pathway. These biochemical parameters are virtually undetectable at two weeks after treatment and even at one year after treatment do not exceed 5-10% of average control values. Light microscopic observations of tissues of the primary olfactory pathway at various times after treatment are consistent with these observations and indicate a substantial destruction of the olfactory epithelium with subsequent atrophy of the olfactory bulb. At very long intervals after treatment, some receptor regeneration is apparent with accompanying reinnervation of the olfactory bulb. Estimates from microscopy and biochemistry suggest that much less than 10% of the normal complement of functioning receptor cells is adequate to give apparently normal food-finding behavior.