To evaluate whether intracranial self-stimulation (SS) ameliorates conditioning deficits induced by parafascicular nucleus (PF) damage in young and aged rats, the authors gave rats a daily session of 2-way active avoidance until a fixed criterion was achieved. Four experimental groups were established in both young and aged rats: SS treatment after every conditioning session (SS groups), pretraining PF lesions (lesion groups), PF lesions and SS treatment (L + SS groups), and controls. SS treatment not only canceled the detrimental effects of PF lesions, but also improved conditioning in lesioned rats (L + SS groups). This effect was more powerful in aged rats. SS treatment compensated for memory deficits generated by hypofunctionality of arousal systems such as that involving the PF.