Young and aged Fischer 344 rats were tested on the place and cue versions of the Morris water maze task. Although all of the young animals reached criterion within the 8-day testing period, the aged animals could be divided into two groups on the basis of their performance to criterion: achievers and nonachievers. Upon completion of the water maze testing, the animals were sacrificed, and their brains were processed for in vitro autoradiography of hippocampal excitatory amino acid receptors. Significant differences were found between the young and old rats in the levels of N-methyl-D-aspartate, CPP, kainate, and AMPA binding in subregions of the hippocampus. Despite the age-related decline in hippocampal glutamate receptors, no relationship was observed between the density or distribution of excitatory amino acid receptors and performance on the water maze task in the aged rats.