Nootropic activity of -gingerol and phyllanthin was studied in mice using elevated plus maze and passive avoidance paradigm. -gingerol (25 and 50 mg/kg, p.o.) and phyllanthin (7.5 and 15 mg/kg, p.o.) significantly attenuated amnestic deficits induced by diazepam, scopolamine (0.4 mg/kg, i.p.) and natural aging. -gingerol and phyllanthin increased step down latencies significantly in the aged mice, diazepam and scopolamine induced amnesic mice as compared with piracetam (200 mg/kg, i.p.). To delineate the possible mechanism through which -gingerol and phyllanthin elicit anti-amnesic effects, their influence on central cholinergic activity was studied by estimating the whole brain acetylcholinesterase activity. -gingerol and phyllanthin significantly decreased whole brain acetyl cholinesterase activity. Hence, -gingerol (25 and 50 mg/kg, p.o.) and phyllanthin (7.5 and 15 mg/kg, p.o.) might prove to be useful memory restorative agents in the treatment of dementia seen in elderly. The underlying mechanism of action can be attributed to their anti acetylcholinesterase properties.