Animals exposed to an early adverse event may be more susceptible to a second source of stress later in life, and these stressors may have additive deleterious effects. Sleep deprivation is known to be a stressor, affecting multiple body functions such as the cognition. Modafinil enhances working memory and attention in healthy non-sleep deprived subjects and in animal models of sleep deprivation. The first aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of maternal separation (MS) combined with paradoxical sleep deprivation (PSD) in adulthood on recognition memory in rats. Second, we aimed to evaluate whether the administration of modafinil would be able to ameliorate memory deficits induced by MS and PSD. Wistar rat pups were initially distributed into MS and handling (H) groups, with their litters standardized in 4 females and 4 males. In adulthood, the male rats were submitted to PSD or control condition, being redistributed afterwards in modafinil- or vehicle-treatment immediately after the training session of object recognition task. PSD did not potentiate the cognitive deficit due to MS. However, modafinil was able to recover memory impairments associated to PSD and also to MS in the neonatal period. This study demonstrates for the first time that modafinil ameliorates cognitive deficits associated to MS and to PSD in adulthood, independent from MS in the neonatal period.