It has been suggested that the P3 event-related potential (ERP) may mark the operation of certain working or long-term memory processes. It has also been reported that cholinergic blockade by scopolamine induces significant memory impairment and is associated with an increased latency, as well as amplitude reduction or abolition of the auditory pi, thus supporting hypothesised links between P3 and long-term memory function. An intriguing anomaly is that, while visual P3 latency is also increased by scopolamine, amplitude is not changed. The aim of this study was to make a more detailed assessment of the effects of scopolamine on the visual P3 at a drug dose known to induce memory impairment. After drug administration, memory performance was significantly impaired and visual P3 latency was significantly increased, There was little evidence of parietal P3 amplitude reduction, but frontal P3 amplitude was significantly reduced in both target and non-target conditions. These findings, when considered in the light of a more recent study of the effects of scopolamine on auditory P3, suggest that cholinergic blockade produces a common effect in both visual and auditory modalities of significant frontal P3 amplitude reduction, but no significant parietal P3 amplitude reduction. These results are consistent with the view that there are modality-independent generators of the parietal and frontal P3. The finding of drug-induced memory impairment and modulations of frontal ERP deflections is also consistent with recent evidence of a significant role for regions of the frontal lobe in encoding and retrieval of long-term memories. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.