The role of the prelimbic cortex (PL) in rats was investigated with excitotoxic lesions. PL lesions altered the alternation scores in spontaneous and reinforced spatial delayed-alternation tasks. PL lesions induced a delay in conditioning under a temporal go/no-go alternation schedule but not under a continuous food-reinforcement schedule in a runway. PL lesions had no effect on the acquisition of a standard radial-arm-maze task nor on a fixed-goal location task but disrupted the acquisition of a variable-goal location task in a radial-arm maze. The present results indicate that PL lesions replicated most of the behavioral deficits obtained with larger prefrontal lesions. PL lesions disrupted the acquisition of delayed-variable response tasks while leaving unaffected fixed-response tasks. These results are discussed in relation with a working-memory, a response-selection, and an attentional hypothesis.