Strychnine-insensitive glycine binding sites have recently been shown to positively modulate N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. In the present study, the effects on recognition memory of D-cycloserine, a partial agonist at the glycine modulatory site on the NMDA receptor, were evaluated in rhesus monkeys performing a computer-automated version of delayed nonmatching-to-sample (DNMS) with a list length of 20 trail-unique graphic symbols. Single administration of D-cycloserine (100-1000 micrograms/kg i.m.) facilitated DNMS performance significantly with an inverted U-shaped dose-response curve when given 30 min before testing. To assess further the possible neural mechanisms, D-cycloserine was evaluated for its effects on the memory impairments after blockade of the glycine sites by HA-966, N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors by MK-801, or cholinergic receptors by scopolamine. D-Cycloserine completely reversed the visual recognition memory deficits produced by HA-966 (3.2 mg/kg i.m.). D-Cycloserine also dose-dependently and significantly restored the memory deficits produced by MK-801 (32 micrograms/kg i.m.). In addition, D-cycloserine produced a partial, though significant, improvement on the recognition memory deficits after cholinergic blockade with scopolamine (10 micrograms/kg i.m.). From these results, we propose that D-cycloserine has a cognition-enhancing property in non-human primates and that it may have a potential value in treating dementias. Furthermore, the present results provide new evidence for the important role for the glycine sites in the regulation of recognition memory.