Most basic science research has focused on overt stroke caused by blockage of major blood vessels. Less attention has been paid to small vessel disease giving rise to covert stroke that often leads to vascular cognitive impairment (VCI). One reason for this may be the relative lack of relevant animal models. This talk will describe a model of VCI induced in middle-aged Sprague-Dawley rats exposed to a diet high in saturated fats, salt and refined sugar (HFSS). In Experiment 1, rats fed HFSS and subjected to a small mediodorsal (MD) thalamic stroke with or without concomitant cerebral hypoperfusion experienced significant executive dysfunction. In Experiment 2, dietary influences on functional, physiological and anatomical parameters were assessed. We found significant hypertension, blockage of brain microvessels (2-photon microscopy) and white matter atrophy in HFSS diet animals. As in Experiment 1, profound, specific set-shifting executive dysfunction was noted following both small MD infarcts (0.332 mm3) and the HFSS diet. In summary, these data describe a middle-aged animal model of VCI that includes clinically-relevant metabolic disturbances and small vessel disease and as such may be helpful in developing new cognitive therapies.