Intranasal administration, which bypasses the blood-brain barrier and minimizes systemic exposure, is a non-invasive alternative for targeted drug delivery to the brain. While identification of metal dysregulation in Alzheimer's brain has led to the development of therapeutic metal-binding agents, targeting to the brain has remained an issue. The purpose of this study was to both determine concentrations of deferoxamine (DFO), a high-affinity iron chelator, reaching the brains of mice after intranasal administration and to determine its efficacy in a mouse model of spatial memory loss. Intranasal administration of DFO (2.4 mg) labeled with (59)Fe (75 muCi) to C57 mice resulted in micromolar concentrations at 30 min within brain parenchyma. After 3 months of intranasal DFO treatment, 2.4 mg three times per week, 48-week-old APP/PS1 mice had significantly reduced escape latencies in Morris water maze compared to vehicle-treated mice. This is the first report that intranasal DFO improves spatial memory in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease and demonstrates that intranasal DFO reaches the brain in therapeutic doses.