Learning minimally invasive surgery (MIS) differs substantially from learning open surgery and trainees differ in their ability to learn MIS. Previous studies mainly focused on the role of visuo-spatial ability (VSA) on the learning curve for MIS. In the current study, the relationship between spatial memory, perceptual speed, and general reasoning ability, in addition to VSA, and performance on a MIS simulator is examined. Fifty-three laparoscopic novices were tested for cognitive aptitude. Laparoscopic performance was assessed with the LapSim simulator (Surgical Science Ltd., Gothenburg, Sweden). Participants trained multiple sessions on the simulator until proficiency was reached. Participants showed significant improvement on the time to complete the task and efficiency of movement. Performance was related to different cognitive abilities, depending on the performance measure and type of cognitive ability. No relationship between cognitive aptitude and duration of training or steepness of the learning curve was found. Cognitive aptitude mediates certain aspects of performance during training on a laparoscopic simulator. Based on the current study, we conclude that cognitive aptitude tests cannot be used for resident selection but are potentially useful for developing individualized training programs. More research will be performed to examine how cognitive aptitude testing can be used to design training programs.