The effects of methyl beta-carboline-3-carboxylate (βCCM, an inverse agonists of GABA/benzodiazepine receptors) or physostigmine (a cholinesterase inhibitor) on retrieval processes and relationships with anxiety have been only marginally studied. This study investigates in mice the effects of acute βCCM or physostigmine injections on retrieval of previously acquired discriminations involving distinct contextual cues (serial contextual discrimination; SCD) in a four-hole-board. Animals submitted to SCD were also evaluated for emotional reactivity in an elevated-plus maze. Mice were injected before the learning session began with a saline solution. Twenty-four hours later, mice were replaced on the context of the initial acquisition and a single dose of saline or βCCM (0.5 or 1.5 mg/kg) or physostigmine (0.05 and 1.0 mg/kg) was injected 20 min before testing. The highest dose of either βCCM or physostigmine improved performance of the first discrimination in the SCD task. The higher dose of βCCM produced anxiety-like reactivity in the plus maze, and scores of “anxiety” were significantly correlated with memory scores; in contrast, memory performance of physostigmine-treated subjects were totally independent of emotional reactivity. These results show that, as opposed to physostigmine, βCCM acts on retrieval processes specifically through its emotional component.