The single-trial passive avoidance task is a useful procedure for examining learning and memory in the young chick. However, it has recently been suggested that discrepant results reported by different laboratories are due to differences in training procedure. The present study investigated a number of parameters surrounding the passive avoidance task, using day-old White Leghorn, Black Australorp cockerels. The results suggested that presentation of a water-dipped bead immediately after the aversive bead significantly altered retention levels. In addition, when the water-dipped bead was presented after the aversive bead, chicks failed to discriminate between beads for a period of 10 min following exposure to the aversant experience. A novel variant of the passive avoidance procedure, involving pretraining with a water-dipped red bead, training with an aversant-coated red bead, and testing with a dry red bead, was evaluated. A measure of avoidance was calculated using all three trials. It is suggested that the use of a single bead, measured both before and after the training experience and using both aversant- and water-trained controls, results in the most concise characterization of memory-related phenomena in the chick which is not contaminated by a carryover effect from the aversive training experience to the nonaversive bead.