Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (CDK-5) is reported to phosphorylate the NMDA receptor prior to the induction of long-term potentiation (LTP), among its many other effects. Application of CDK-5 inhibitors disrupts LTP and results in impaired task acquisition in behaving animals. In this study, we investigated the effect of exogenously applied roscovitine, a potent CDK-5 inhibitor, on consolidation and reconsolidation processes in day-old male chicks. New Hampshire x White leghorn cockerels were trained using a modified version of the passive avoidance learning task. Intracranial injections of roscovitine (2.5 microM) administered immediately after training induced a memory deficit that evolved from 5-minute post-training and persisted until at least 24 h following training. Injections of roscovitine (2.75 microM) administered immediately after the reminder trial induced a memory deficit observed by 30-minute post-reminder which had resolved by 24 h following the reminder. The comparison between consolidation and reconsolidation demonstrates differences both in the time of the onset of the memory deficit as well as in the permanence of this deficit. The results suggest an important, although different role for CDK-5 in consolidation and reconsolidation processes following passive avoidance learning.