The electrosensory lateral line lobe (ELL) of mormyrid electric fish is a cerebellum-like structure that receives primary afferent input from electroreceptors in the skin. Purkinje-like cells in ELL store and retrieve a temporally precise negative image of prior sensory input. The stored image is derived from the association of centrally originating predictive signals with peripherally originating sensory input. The predictive signals are probably conveyed by parallel fibers. Recent in vitro experiments have demonstrated that pairing parallel fiber-evoked excitatory postsynaptic potentials (epsps) with postsynaptic spikes in Purkinje-like cells depresses the strength of these synapses. The depression has a tight dependence on the temporal order of pre- and postsynaptic events. The postsynaptic spike must follow the onset of the epsp within a window of about 60 msec for the depression to occur and pairings at other delays yield a nonassociative enhancement of the epsp. Mathematical analyses and computer simulations are used here to test the hypothesis that synaptic plasticity of the type established in vitro could be responsible for the storage of temporal patterns that is observed in vivo. This hypothesis is confirmed. The temporally asymmetric learning rule established in vitro results in the storage of activity patterns as observed in vivo and does so with significantly greater fidelity than other types of learning rules. The results demonstrate the importance of precise timing in pre- and postsynaptic activity for accurate storage of temporal information.