A peptide that accumulated as the major product during the proteolysis of arginine vasopressin by rat brain synaptic membranes was isolated and its structure was shown to be the hexapeptide pGlu-Asn-Cys(Cys)-Pro-Arg-Gly-NH2. When administered intracerebroventricularly in extremely low doses, this vasopressin fragment and its desglycinamide derivative facilitated memory consolidation in a passive avoidance situation. These vasopressin metabolites, which are devoid of pressor activity, constitute highly potent neuropeptides with selective effects on memory and related processes; they are activated via proteolytic processing of vasopressin by brain peptidases.