Rats with neurotoxic lesions centered in the anterior thalamic nuclei were trained in two versions of a nonspatial, sensory preconditioning procedure. In both versions, two stimulus compounds (AX and BY) were first presented and then X, but not Y, was paired with an aversive unconditioned stimulus. This procedure resulted in greater conditioned responding to A than B. Anterior thalamic lesions had no apparent effect on these two examples of sensory preconditioning, nor did they affect fear conditioning or conditioned taste aversion. In contrast, the same lesions led to a severe deficit on a test of spatial memory. These results help to refine our understanding of the contribution of the anterior thalamic nuclei to spatial memory.