Children suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis and matched normals were instructed on the use of a didactic computer simulation in a realistic classroom situation. Groups of atopic children received different treatments before instruction; ie, sedating (diphenylhydramine HCl) or nonsedating (loratadine) antihistamines or placebo. All returned after 2 weeks for an examination measuring factual and conceptual knowledge and the application of a learned strategy. Examination results showed large and consistent impairing effects of the allergic reaction on prior learning. Both the placebo and diphenhydramine groups learned significantly less than normal controls. The loratadine group's learning performance was superior to either of the other atopic groups' but still inferior to the normals'. Our conclusions are that the allergic reaction reduces learning ability in children and that this effect is partially counteracted by treatment with loratadine and aggravated by diphenhydramine.