The D2 dopamine (DA) receptor agonist, quinpirole, was characterized in young adult monkeys, young reserpine-treated monkeys and aged monkeys to assess the contribution of DA to age-related loss of prefrontal cortical (PFC) cognitive function. Monkeys were tested on a delayed response memory task that depends on the PFC, and a fine motor task that taps the functions of the motor cortex. In young adult monkeys, low quinpirole doses impaired performance of the PFC and fine motor tasks, while higher doses improved memory performance and induced dyskinesias and “hallucinatory-like” behaviors. The pattern of the quinpirole response in reserpine-treated monkeys suggested that the impairments in delayed response and fine motor performance resulted from drug actions at D2 autoreceptors, while the improvement in delayed response performance, dyskinesias and “hallucinatory-like” behaviors resulted from actions at postsynaptic receptors. In aged monkeys, low doses of quinpirole continued to impair fine motor performance, but lost their ability to impair delayed response performance. The magnitude of cognitive improvement and the incidence of “hallucinatory- like” behaviors were also reduced in the aged animals, suggesting some loss of postsynaptic D2 receptor function. The pattern of results is consistent with the greater loss of DA from the PFC than from motor areas in aged monkey brain (Goldman-Rakic and Brown, 1981; Wenk et al., 1989), and indicates that DA depletion contributes significantly to age- related cognitive decline.