Chronic restraint stress causes significant dendritic atrophy of CA3 pyramidal neurons that reverts to baseline within a week. Therefore, the authors assessed the functional consequences of this atrophy quickly (within hours) using the Y maze. Experiments 1-3 demonstrated that rats relied on extrinsic, spatial cues located outside of the Y maze to determine arm location and that rats with hippocampal damage (through kainic acid, colchicine, or trimethyltin) had spatial memory impairments. After the Y maze was validated as a hippocampally relevant spatial task, Experiment 4 showed that chronic restraint stress impaired spatial memory performance on the Y maze when rats were tested the day after the last stress session and that tianeptine prevented the stress-induced spatial memory impairment. These data are consistent with the previously demonstrated ability of tianeptine to prevent chronic stress-induced atrophy of the CA3 dendrites.