The N-methyl D-aspartate receptor complex is involved in the mechanism of long-term potentiation, which is thought to be the biological basis of learning and memory. This complex can be manipulated in a number of ways, one of which is through the strychnine-insensitive glycine receptor coagonist site. The effects of Bioglycin(Konapharma, Pratteln, Switzerland), a biologically active form of the amino acid glycine, were therefore studied in healthy students (mean age, 20.7 years) and middle-aged men (mean age, 58.9 years) with tests that measured attention, memory and mood, using a double-blind, randomized, crossover design. Compared with the young group, the middle-aged group had significantly poorer verbal episodic memory, focused, divided, and sustained attention; they also differed in their subjective responses at the end of testing. Bioglycin significantly improved retrieval from episodic memory in both the young and the middle-aged groups, but it did not affect focused or divided attention. However, the middle-aged men significantly benefited from Bioglycin in the sustained-attention task. The effects of Bioglycin differed from those of other cognitive enhancers in that it was without stimulant properties or significant effects on mood, and it primarily improved memory rather than attention. It is likely to be of benefit in young or older people in situations where high retrieval of information is needed or when performance is impaired by jet lag, shift work, or disrupted sleep. It may also benefit the impaired retrieval shown in patients with schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease.