How effective are synaptic inputs made at different dendritic sites in the control of action potential output? Recent technical advances have allowed direct observation of the amplitude and time course of excitatory synaptic inputs generated at defined dendritic sites. These findings indicate that contrasting mechanisms exist to enhance the impact of dendritic excitatory inputs to pyramidal neurons of the neocortex and hippocampus. Furthermore, multiple sites of synaptic integration have been revealed, suggesting that proximal and distal inputs are likely to be integrated in different ways. Taken together, these data emphasize the cell- and input-specific strategies used by neurons to enhance the impact of dendritic inputs on action potential generation.