alpha-Lipoic acid (alpha-LA) improved longer-term memory of aged female NMRI mice in the habituation in the open field test at a dose of 100 mg/kg body weight for 15 days. In a separate experiment, no such effect could be found for young mice. alpha-LA alleviated age-related NMDA receptor deficits (Bmax) without changing muscarinic, benzodiazepine, and alpha 2-adrenergic receptor deficits in aged mice. The carbachol-stimulated accumulation of inositol monophosphates was not changed by the treatment with alpha-LA. These results give tentative support to the hypothesis that alpha-LA improves memory in aged mice, probably by a partial compensation of NMDA receptor deficits. Possible modes of action of alpha-LA based on its free radical scavenger properties are discussed in relation to the membrane hypothesis of aging.