We have used extracellular microelectrode recording to characterise a form of long-term depression (LTD) of synaptic transmission that can be induced by metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptor activation in the CA1 region of the young (12-18 day old) rat hippocampus. Activation of group I mGlu receptors by the specific agonist 3,5-dihydroxyphenylglyine (DHPG) induced LTD of field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs). The mGlu5 selective agonist 2-chloro-5-hydroxyphenylglycine was also capable of inducing LTD. In contrast, the group II specific agonist DCG-IV had no effect on synaptic transmission, whilst the group III receptor agonist (S)-2-amino-4-phosphonobutyrate elicited a depression that reversed fully upon agonist washout. DHPG-induced LTD could still be generated after prior saturation of electrically-induced NMDA receptor-dependent LTD. DHPG-induced LTD was reversed by tetanic stimulation comprising 100 shocks delivered at 100 Hz. A novel mGlu receptor antagonist, (RS)-2-amino-2-(3-cis and trans-carboxycyclobutyl-3-(9-thioxanthyl)propionic acid) (LY393053) that potently inhibits mGlu1 and mGlu5 receptors, prevented the induction of DHPG-induced LTD. Like other mGlu receptor antagonists, LY393053 also reversed pre-established DHPG-induced LTD. In contrast, a potent mGlu1 selective antagonist (S)-2-methyl-4-carboxyphenylglycine (LY367385) did not prevent the induction of DHPG-induced LTD. In conclusion, DHPG, probably via activation of mGlu5 receptors, is able to induce a robust form of LTD in the CA1 region of the young rat hippocampus that is mechanistically distinct from NMDA receptor-dependent homosynaptic LTD.