Recent studies have suggested that anaesthesia may be a factor in cognitive decline with age. We examined the effect of repeated (eight times) anaesthesia with pentobarbital on reaction time performance in rats in a longitudinal study. Treated rats had faster response times and made more premature responses than the control rats when they were older than 21 months. The results suggest that repeated anaesthesia during the lifespan can lead to an increase in impulsivity, as assessed by a choice reaction time test, during the later stages of life in the rat. These findings support the theory that repeated anaesthesia is a biological factor that affects cognitive ageing.