The ability to acquire a cognitive and motor skill was investigated in 20 older and 20 younger participants using repeated testing on the Tower of Toronto (TT) puzzle, a variant of the Tower of Hanoi. Explicit memory, perceptual priming, and sustained attention were also assessed. Older subjects exhibited a defective cognitive skill performance despite the fact that cognitive skill learning suffered little or no impairment. Poor problem-solving ability, diminished attention, fatigue, defective explicit memory, and meta-cognitive processes were likely to play a limiting role. Factors interfering with the generation of reliable goal structures are likely to prevent cognitive skill learning, giving important cues for future cognitive remediation.