To investigate the effects of nitric oxide (NO) on passive avoidance learning, L-NAME, D-NAME, and L-arginine were administered i.p. 30 min prior to learning trial; the effects of these substances were tested 24 h later using a passive avoidance apparatus in rats. To reveal the effect of NO on consolidation of acquired memory, L-NAME, D-NAME, and L-arginine were administered i.p. immediately after learning trials and animals were tested 24 It later. Effect of NO on retention was also investigated by injecting L-NAME, D-NAME, and L-arginine (same dosages) 30 min prior to 24 It testing (retrieval). L-NAME administered 30 min before and 24 h after learning trial significantly decreased the avoidance latency but there was no significant effect on consolidation. L-Arginine appeared to enhance the retention of acquired memory significantly, whereas D-NAME had no effect on any testing regime. The results suggest that NO may be involved in learning and retention of passive avoidance.