The olfactory system is an excellent system in which to study issues related to potential functional recovery after a debilitating brain injury. The olfactory system is well-characterized, easily accessible and there are a vast number of studies available from a variety of perspectives. The experimental aim of this research is to examine the anatomical correlates associated with potential behavioral recovery in rats that receive complete olfactory bulb lesions as neonates or as adults. The results show that behavioral recovery occurs only when olfactory nerve penetration of the central nervous system is observed. Further, both olfactory nerve penetration and behavioral recovery are age-dependent phenomena. The olfactory nerve penetration only occurs when the olfactory bulb lesion is performed in neonates. Behavioral recovery of olfactory ability follows a linear trend and reaches near normal levels during the six weeks behavioral testing period. Histological analysis using an antibody for olfactory marker protein (an olfactory nerve-specific marker) reveals two potential candidates for the anatomical pathway responsible for behavioral recovery: olfactory nerve to orbital frontal cortex and olfactory nerve to olfactory peduncle. This report presents evidence that recovery of olfactory ability can occur in the absence of the olfactory bulb if the lesion is performed when the rat is still a neonate.