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THE purpose of the present study was to design an object recognition task in mice and characterize the effects of scopolamine in this paradigm. This task consisted of exposing mice for 6 or 10 min to an object in an open field (trial 1) and, after a delay (1–24 h), testing mice for 10 min with the object and a novel object (trial 2). Mice explored the novel object more than the familiar object as the inter-trial delay decreased and/or the duration of trial 1 increased. Administration of scopolamine (0.3, 1 and 3 mg kg−1, s.c.) before trial 1 reduced recognition performance on trial 2 after a 3 h inter-trial delay and induced other behavioural effects, including an increase in locomotor activity on trial 1. Methylscopolamine (1 mg kg−1) had no effect on recognition performance. The present results show that this task is a useful model to test recognition memory in mice and that blocking the central cholinergic system impairs this form of memory.