1. The mechanisms of long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) induced by brief high frequency stimulation (HFS), paired with a particular pattern and amplitude of depolarisation has been investigated in the medial perforant pathway of the dentate gyrus of the 2- to 3-week-old rat hippocampus in vitro. 2. N-Methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor (NMDAR) activation was measured quantitatively during HFS-induced NMDAR-dependent LTP, LTD and at the LTD--LTP crossover point in order to test the hypothesis that the induction of the particular form of plasticity depends on the intensity of NMDAR activation. 3. The induction of LTD, the LTD--LTP crossover point and LTP was associated with an increasing NMDAR charge transfer. 4. In addition to the NMDAR-dependent LTD, a group I metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR)-dependent LTD could be induced by high intensity HFS paired with depolarisation under conditions of NMDAR inhibition. 5. The induction of mGluR-dependent LTD requires membrane depolarisation, Ca(2+) influx via L-type Ca(2+) channels and a rise in intracellular Ca(2+). 6. Quantal analysis involving minimal stimulation demonstrated that the mGluR-dependent LTD induction was associated with a decrease in potency and an increase in failure rate.