Abnormalities in hippocampal structure and function are characteristics of early Alzheimer's disease (AD). Behavioral tests measuring hippocampal-dependent memory in rodents are often used to evaluate novel treatments for AD and other dementias. In this study, we review the effects of drugs marketed for the treatment of AD, such as the acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, donepezil, rivastigmine, galantamine and the N-methyl-D-aspartic acid antagonist, memantine, in rodent models of memory impairment. We also briefly describe the effects of novel treatments for cognitive impairment in rodent models of memory impairment, and discuss issues concerning the selection of the animal model and behavioral tests. Suggestions for future research are offered.