Acetic acid bacteria, fermentative microorganisms of traditional foods, have unique alkali-stable lipids (ASL), such as dihydroceramide which is a precursor of sphingolipids. Sphingolipids are important components of the brain tissue. We examined the effect of oral administration of ASL in a rat model of dementia (7-week-old, male) with a basal forebrain lesion. In a water maze test, the dementia model rats demonstrated poor spatial orientation. The administration of ASL (165 or 1650 mg/kg of body weight per day, for 14 days) produced a significant improvement in learning ability in the dementia model rats. In vitro experiments showed ASL had the ability to promote neurite outgrowth in pheochromocytoma (PC12) cells. Among the ASL components, dihydroceramide has the most potent effect on the differentiation of PC12 cells. It is highly possible that oral administration of dihydroceramide-containing ASL reverses the decline in cognitive function in dementia.