Protein kinase C (PKC), an enzyme that plays an essential role in eukaryotic cell regulation (Nishizuka, 1988; Huang et al., 1989), is critical to memory storage processes both in the marine snail Hermissenda crassicornis and in the rabbit (Alkon et al., 1988; Bank et al., 1988; Olds et al., 1989). Specifically, activation of PKC mimics neurobiological correlates of classical conditioning in both Hermissenda and the rabbit, and the distribution of the enzyme within the rabbit hippocampus changes after Pavlovian conditioning. Here, we report that the amount of PKC, as assayed by specific binding of 3H- phorbol-12,13-dibutyrate (3H-PDBU), decreased significantly within the hippocampal CA3 cell region in rats trained to solve a water maze task either by cognitive mapping or by visual discrimination strategies, but not in control rats. Furthermore, hippocampal lesions interfered with acquisition of both of these tasks. We interpret these findings to support the conclusion that distributional changes of PKC within the mammalian hippocampus play a crucial role in memory storage processes.