Forty-two male Wistar rats were trained in a two-way active avoidance task during 5 consecutive days (10 trials/session). Immediately after each training session animals were given an injection, ip, of 0.1 mg/kg (EPI 0.1 group) or 0.05 mg/kg (EPI 0.05 group) of epinephrine, or vehicle (Vehicle group). Long-term retention was tested 20 days after the last acquisition session. Our results showed that the lower dose of epinephrine (0.05 mg/kg) led to a significant improvement of acquisition, compared with both the Vehicle and the EPI 0.1 group. On the long-term retention session the level of avoidances in both EPI 0.05 and Vehicle groups was similar to that achieved on the last acquisition session, although differences between groups failed to reach statistical significance. Concerning the EPI 0.1 group, a significant increase in the number of avoidances was observed between the last acquisition session and the long-term retention session. This later result might suggest that the higher dose of epinephrine would need a longer period to manifest its effectiveness. We conclude that the facilitatory effects of epinephrine are dose-dependent, and that under a distributed paradigm epinephrine modulates memory consolidation processes leading to an improvement of the magnitude of learning rather than merely speeding up learning. © 1993 Academic Press, Inc.