The herbal extract 3-n-butylphthalide (NBP) is used in clinical practice for ischemic patients in China. It has been shown to have various neuroprotective effects both in vitro and in vivo. In the present study, the effects of NBP on learning and memory decline in the senescence-accelerated mouse prone-8 (SAMP8) animal model were investigated. Intragastric NBP administration to 4-month-old SAMP8 mice for 2 months significantly improved spatial learning and memory ability. Moreover, the loss of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)-positive neurons in the medial septal nucleus and the vertical limb of the diagonal band in SAMP8 mice was slowed down, as was the decline in the protein and mRNA expression of ChAT in the hippocampus, cerebral cortex, and forebrain. These results demonstrated that NBP treatment starting at the age of 4 months protected from the learning/memory deficits with aging of SAMP8 mice, and that this effect might be mediated by preventing the decline of the central cholinergic system.