Postembedding immunogold labeling was used to determine the relationship between AMPA and NMDA receptor density and size of Schaffer collateral-commissural (SCC) synapses of the adult rat. All SCC synapses expressed NMDA receptors. AMPA and NMDA receptors were colocalized in at least 75% of SCC synapses; the ratio of AMPA to NMDA receptors was a linear function of postsynaptic density (PSD) diameter, with AMPA receptor number dropping to zero at a PSD diameter of approximately 180 nm. These findings indicate that 'silent' SCC synapses are smaller than the majority of SCC synapses at which AMPA and NMDA receptors are colocalized. Thus synapse size may determine important properties of SCC synapses.