Locus coeruleus degeneration and reduced central noradrenaline content is an early feature of Alzheimer's disease. In transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer's disease-like pathology, lesioning the locus coeruleus exacerbates beta-amyloid (A beta) pathology, neuroinflammation and memory deficits. Here we aimed to determine whether chronic treatment with the alpha(2)-adrenoceptor antagonist fluparoxan, that enhances noradrenaline release, can prevent the onset of Alzheimer's-like pathology and memory deficits in APP/PS1 transgenic mice (TASTPM). Fluparoxan (1 mg/kg/day) was administered to TASTPM and wild type mice from 4 to 8 months of age. Memory was assessed at 4 and 8 months of age using the Morris water maze and contextual fear conditioning and at monthly intervals during the duration of treatment using the object recognition and spontaneous alternation task. A beta plaque load and astrocytosis were measured at 4 and 8 months of age by immunohistochemistry. Fluparoxan treatment prevented age-related spatial working memory deficits in the spontaneous alternation task but not spatial reference memory deficits in the Morris water maze. A beta plaque load and astrocytosis were unaltered by fluparoxan treatment in TASTPM mice. The findings suggest that fluparoxan treatment selectively prevent the decline of forms of memory where noradrenaline plays an integral role and that this beneficial effect is not due to altered A beta plaque pathology or astrocytosis. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.