An increase in natural killer (NK) cell activity can be conditioned with a one trial learning paradigm to demonstrate the interaction between the central nervous system (CNS) and the immune system. In order to demonstrate learning possibilities during 'non-conscious' state, mice were anesthetized with a ketamin/rompun mixture and underwent one trial learning with odor cue as the conditioned stimulus (CS) preceding the unconditioned stimulus (US). The results indicated that mice that were exposed to camphor odor cue under the influence of anesthesia can associate the signal with the poly I:C unconditioned stimulus and were able to recall the conditioned response upon reexposure to the CS. Secondly, the conditioned association made in a conscious state can be recalled by exposure to the same olfactory odor cue in a 'non-conscious' state. The increase in the conditioned change in NK cell activity of both situations was significantly higher than the control group. The results demonstrate that learning can take place and the learned response can be recalled under the reduced awareness caused by anesthesia. The findings we report are unusual and novel in that they demonstrate that the CNS can learn new associations under conditions where the host is apparently unaware of the signals being linked. Anesthesia combined with the long interstimulus interval indicates that certain neuronal pathways in the CNS are receptive to second signals (elicited by the US) even when the second signal is separated by one day. This means the conditioned learning of a physiological response can take place unconsciously at a separate level and under situations where the host is totally unaware of the events which the brain is processing and linking as incoming information. © 1992.