Deposition of extracellular amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide is one of the pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Accumulation of Aβ is thought to associate with cognition deficits, neuroinflammation and apoptosis observed in AD. However, effective neuroprotective approaches against Aβ neurotoxicity are unavailable. In the present study, we analysed the effects of pranlukast, a selective cysteinyl leukotriene receptor 1 (CysLT1R) antagonist, on the impairment of learning and memory formation induced by Aβ and the probable underlying electrophysiological and molecular mechanisms. We found that bilateral intrahippocampal injection of Aβ1–42 resulted in a significant decline of spatial learning and memory of mice in the Morris water maze (MWM) and Y-maze tests, together with a serious depression of in vivo hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP) in the CA1 region of the mice. Importantly, this treatment caused significant increases in CysLT1R expression and subsequent NF-κB signaling, caspase-3 activation and Bcl-2 downregulation in the hippocampus or prefrontal cortex. Oral administration of pranlukast at 0.4 or 0.8 mg/kg for 4 wk significantly reversed Aβ1–42-induced impairments of cognitive function and hippocampal LTP in mice. Furthermore, pranlukast reversed Aβ1–42-induced CysLT1R upregulation, and markedly suppressed the Aβ1–42-triggered NF-κB pathway, caspase-3 activation and Bcl-2 downregulation in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex in mice. Liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) assay confirmed its presence in the brain after oral administration of pranlukast in mice. These data disclose novel findings about the therapeutic potential of pranlukast, revealing a previously unknown therapeutic possibility to treat memory deficits associated with AD.