The scopolamine model of amnesia has been used to test the pharmacodynamic efficacy of oxiracetam in 12 healthy volunteers. The subjects were divided into four experimental groups, according to a double-blind cross over incomplete randomized block design. After a baseline neuropsychological examination, each subject received in two separate sessions one of the following treatments, as acute oral doses: oxiracetam 800, 1600, 2400 mg or placebo. One hour after treatment scopolamine hydrobromide (0.5 mg) was given subcutaneously. The cognitive performance was tested before and 1, 2, 3 and 25 h after scopolamine administration. Scopolamine caused a deterioration of performance of verbal episodic memory, semantic memory and attention tests. In comparison to placebo, oxiracetam improved the overall test performance, with a statistically significant difference at the dose of 1600 mg on delayed recall of word lists, and showed dose-related antagonism of scopolamine-induced effects also on semantic memory and attention. The efficacy of an acute dose of oxiracetam in reducing scopolamine-induced cognitive impairment supports the potential usefulness of this pharmacological model of amnesia for studying the effects of cognition enhancers in humans.