The immunotoxin 192 IgG saporin (192 IgG-sap) offers a valuable tool to investigate the role of the developing basal forebrain cholinergic system in modulating behavioral functions in developing, as well as adult rats. After neonatal 192 IgG-sap lesions, rats display reduced ultrasonic vocalizations as neonates, deficits in passive avoidance learning as juveniles, and altered reactions to spatial novelty as adults. These data suggest that neonatal cholinergic depletion affects cognitive performance in juvenile and adult rats. Additionally, neonatal cholinergic depletion alters ultrasonic vocalizations, which could then alter establishing normal mother-infant relationships, and thus compound the pup's cognitive deficits. These findings underscore the importance of assessing behavior during ontogeny, as well as in adulthood.