Paired recordings between CA3 pyramidal neurons were used to study the properties of synaptic plasticity in active and silent synapses. Synaptic depression is accompanied by decreases in both AMPAR and NMDAR function. The mechanisms of synaptic depression, and the potential to undergo activity-dependent plastic changes in efficacy, differ depending on whether a synapse is active, recently silent, or potentiated. These results suggest that silent and active synapses represent distinct synaptic "states," and that once unsilenced, synapses express plasticity in a graded manner. The state in which a synapse resides, and the states recently visited, determine its potential and mechanism for undergoing subsequent plastic changes.