We investigated long-term potentiation (LTP) at mossy fiber synapses on CA3 pyramidal neurons in the hippocampus. Using Ca2+ imaging techniques, we show here that when postsynaptic Ca2+ was sufficiently buffered so that [Ca2+]i did not rise during synaptic stimulation, the induction of mossy fiber LTP was prevented. In addition, induction of mossy fiber LTP was suppressed by postsynaptic injection of a peptide inhibitor of cAMP-dependent protein kinase. Finally, when ionotropic glutamate receptors were blocked, LTP depended on the postsynaptic release of Ca2+ from internal stores triggered by activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors. These results support the conclusion that mossy fiber LTP and LTP at other hippocampal synapses share a common induction mechanism involving an initial rise in postsynaptic [Ca2+].