Electrophysiology, immunostaining and time lapse imaging techniques were employed to study the mechanism of long-term depression (LTD) induced by DHPG, a specific group I metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) agonist. Experiments were performed in primary hippocampal culture or in the CA1 area of acute rat hippocampal slices. In agreement with previous results by others, we show that DHPG (200 microM, 10 min) can induce LTD (DHPG-LTD) in acute slices, in the presence or absence of synaptic inhibition. In addition, in voltage clamp whole cell experiments we find that accompanying the reduction in the evoked excitatory postsynaptic current (EPSC), miniature EPSC amplitude and frequency are reduced. Similar results were obtained in cultured neurons. Immunostaining and time lapse imaging showed a long-lasting loss of AMPA receptors from the membrane surface of cultured neurons after DHPG treatment, which appears to occur in only a subset of the puncta. Further electrophysiological recordings on slices showed that blocking postsynaptic endocytosis by introducing a blocking peptide named D15 in recording pipettes abolished the DHPG-LTD. In conclusion, these data suggest that LTD induced by mGluR activation is due to a rapid removal of AMPA receptors from the postsynaptic membrane.