These experiments investigated the effect of the relatively selective noradrenergic neurotoxin N-(2-chloroethyl)-N-ethyl-2-bromobenzylamine (DSP-4) on memory formation in day-old chicks trained on a discriminated passive avoidance task. A time course study showed that DSP-4 treatment resulted in amnesia as early as 20 min post-learning. In a second study, a series of alpha- and beta-adrenergic agonists (noradrenaline; the alpha 1 agonist phenylephrine; the beta 1 agonist dobutamine; and the beta 2 agonist salbutamol) were applied immediately after the training trial. Both noradrenaline and salbutamol were effective in ameliorating the memory deficits caused by DSP-4 treatment, and in consolidating weakly reinforced training. These studies support the notion that noradrenaline subserves a vital role in the consolidation of memory in the chick, and that the beta 2 receptor subtypes are principally involved in the intermediate phase of memory formation.