The present experiments determined the consequences of blocking muscarinic cholinergic receptors of the prelimbic (PL) cortex in the acquisition and retention of an odor-reward associative task. Rats underwent a training test (five trials) and a 24-h retention test (two retention trials and two relearning trials). In the first experiment, rats were bilaterally infused with scopolamine (20 or 5 μg/site) prior to training. Although scopolamine rats showed acquisition equivalent to PBS-injected controls, they exhibited weakened performance in the 24-h retention test measured by number of errors. In the second experiment, rats were injected with scopolamine (20 μg/site) immediately or 1 h after training and tested 24 h later. Scopolamine rats injected immediately showed severe amnesia detected in two performance measures (errors and latencies), demonstrating deficits in retention and relearning, whereas those injected 1 h later showed good 24-h test performance, similar to controls. These results suggest that muscarinic transmission in the PL cortex is essential for early memory formation, but not for acquisition, of a rapidly learned odor discrimination task. Findings corroborate the role of acetylcholine in consolidation processes and the participation of muscarinic receptors in olfactory associative tasks. © 2007 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.