Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been implicated in several forms of long-term potentiation (LTP) at different hippocampal synapses. Using two-photon imaging of FM 1-43, a fluorescent marker of synaptic vesicle cycling, we find that BDNF is selectively required for those forms of LTP at Schaffer collateral synapses that recruit a presynaptic component of expression. BDNF-dependent forms of LTP also require activation of L-type voltage-gated calcium channels. One form of LTP with presynaptic expression, theta burst LTP, is thought to be of particular behavioral importance. Using restricted genetic deletion to selectively disrupt BDNF production in either the entire forebrain (CA3 and CA1) or in only the postsynaptic CA1 neuron, we localize the source of BDNF required for LTP to presynaptic neurons. These results suggest that long-term synaptic plasticity has distinct presynaptic and postsynaptic modules. Release of BDNF from CA3 neurons is required to recruit the presynaptic, but not postsynaptic, module of plasticity.