The molecular effects of use-dependent changes in synaptic transmission were studied in individual CA1 pyramidal neurons from rat hippocampal slices. Potentiation of excitatory postsynaptic currents was associated with coordinate changes in the relative abundance of several mRNAs 30 min to 3 hr after stimulation. There was a 300% increase in calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II mRNA levels concordant with a 50% decrease in protein kinase C beta 1 isoform mRNA. A 2-fold increase in zif-268 mRNA was seen, while increases in c-fos and c-jun mRNA levels were inconsistent, gamma-Aminobutyric acid A receptor beta 1 subunit mRNA levels increased 3-fold. Potentiation-induced changes were prevented by N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor blockade. Changes in mRNA abundance in individual cells, with synaptic and glial interactions intact, combine to produce a molecular fingerprint of a potentiated CA1 neuron.