We examined the effects of systemic administration of monosodium glutamate (MSG) or aspartate (ASP) on the memory retention and neuronal damage in the brains of adult mice. Compared with the control mice, a single intraperitoneal injection of either 4.0 mg/g MSG or 0.5 mg/g ASP after acquisition trial significantly shortened the response latency in the passive avoidance test, accompanying by the transient weight loss. Histopathological analysis of the brains of these mice revealed that neurons in the arcuate nucleus of hypothalamus were damaged markedly by MSG (4.0 mg/g) or ASP (0.5 mg/g). Other brain areas including cerebral cortex and hippocampus did not show any pathological changes. These findings suggest that systemic administration of MSG or ASP could impair memory retention and damage hypothalamic neurons in adult mice.