A single trial association protocol was used to demonstrate a conditioned increase in natural killer (NK) cell activity. The signals used were odor of camphor as the conditioned stimulus (CS) and polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (poly I:C) as the unconditioned stimulus (US). This model has been used to dissect the underlying mechanisms of interaction between the central nervous system (CNS) and the immune system (IS) and vice versa. Here, we demonstrate the potential role played by the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus in the acquisition of association memory between the CS and the US. Chemical destruction of the arcuate nucleus with monosodium glutamate (MSG) was used for this purpose. Mice with arcuate nucleus lesion prior to the association protocol did not demonstrate a conditioned increase in NK cell activity. However, the lesion has no effect if produced prior to exposure to the CS at recall. These studies demonstrate the significant role played by the hypothalamus (arcuate nucleus) in a conditioned response. © 1994.