Abstract Old and young Fisher 344 rats were compared for their ability to learn a delayed alternation task. The old animals displayed significant impairment of alternation learning, and were slower than the young animals. The brains of these animals were examined using a silver degeneration stain, and among old rats there was conspicuous degeneration. The greatest density of degenerating fibers was seen in the hippocampus and in anatomically related tracts, but there was substantial fiber staining in the corpus callosum, anterior commissure, and internal capsule. Examination of the young brains revealed only an occasional fiber. There were no signs of cortical atrophy in the old animals. The histopathology of the aged animals' hippocampus and fiber tracts supports the possibility that the delayed alternation impairment shown by these animals was a result of age related degenerative changes.