Lanthanum chloride (5.0 mM) administered immediately after a visual reminder presented to day-old chickens between 7.5 min and 48 h following a single trial passive avoidance learning task produced an immediate but transient loss of memory on retention test, an effect not observed in the absence of a reminder. The duration of the transient deficit was relatively stable with lanthanum chloride consistently inducing a loss of memory that was evident 5 min after the reminder, with recovery by 10-15 min. The results suggest that, for a period of at least up to 48 h after passive avoidance training, the activation of memory retrieval by a reminder stimulus may lead to processes which are sensitive to inhibition by the calcium channel antagonist lanthanum chloride. These results extend previously reported findings implicating the involvement of glutamate-sensitive channels in a transient memory process that is also activated as a result of a reminder stimulus, but that is no longer present 48 h after training. The glutamate-sensitive mechanism appears to be a secondary mechanism activated following memory retrieval and to be dependent on the level of memory consolidation that the memory for the original experience has undergone. The results presented here suggest that lanthanum chloride, a calcium channel antagonist, inhibits memory retrieval in the day-old chick. This effect implicates calcium channel mediated processes in immediate memory recall. Further, the results suggest the lanthanum inhibits a primary mechanism, that precedes that glutamate-sensitive mechanism identified previously and that both are dependent on the activation of memory retrieval by a reminder.