The present experiments were designed to determine whether the loss of visual acuity and thermoregulatory control in aged rats contributes significantly to age-related deficits in the Morris water task. Relative to 2.5 mo rats, 16-18 mo F-344 rats were found to perform poorly in this spatial learning task. Their performance was also impaired in a test of visual acuity, and they became hypothermic during testing in the Morris water task. Nevertheless, 23 mo F-344 rats still retained a fairly high degree of visual acuity, and reducing the degree of visual acuity required to perform spatial mapping by adding large visual cues in close proximity to the target platform did not improve their performance. However, preventing hypothermia by warming 23 mo rats between trials in the Morris water task did significantly improve performance. These results suggest that age-related deficits in the Morris water task are not due to the loss of visual acuity; but, as a specific measure of cognitive function, performance in the Morris water task may be confounded by the loss of thermoregulatory control.