The hypothesis that age-associated impairment of cognitive and motor functions is due to oxidative molecular damage was tested in the mouse. In a blind study, senescent mice (aged 22 months) were subjected to a battery of behavioral tests for motor and cognitive functions and subsequently assayed for oxidative molecular damage as assessed by protein carbonyl concentration in different regions of the brain. The degree of age-related impairment in each mouse was determined by comparison to a reference group of young mice (aged 4 months) tested concurrently on the behavioral battery. The age-related loss of ability to perform a spatial swim maze task was found to be positively correlated with oxidative molecular damage in the cerebral cortex, whereas age-related loss of motor coordination was correlated with oxidative molecular damage within the cerebellum. These results support the view that oxidative stress is a causal factor in brain senescence. Furthermore, the findings suggest that age-related declines of cognitive and motor performance progress independently, and involve oxidative molecular damage within different regions of the brain.