Repeated seizures induce permanent alterations in the hippocampal circuitry in experimental models and patients with intractable temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Most studies have concentrated their attention on seizure-induced reorganization of the mossy fiber pathway. The present study examined the projection pathway of the CA1 pyramidal neurons to the subiculum, which is the output of the hippocampal formation in five models of TLE. We examined the laminar pattern of Timm's histochemistry in the stratum lacunosum-moleculare of CA1 in three acute and two chronic models of TLE: intraventricular kainic acid (KA), systemic KA, systemic pilocarpine, chronic electric kindling and chronic i.p. pentylenetetrazol. The laminar pattern of Timm histochemistry in the stratum moleculare of CA1 was permanently remodeled in epileptic models suggesting sprouting of Timm containing terminals from the adjacent stratum lacunosum. Ultrastructural examination confirmed that Timm granules were localized in synaptic terminals. As the source of Timm-labeled terminals in this region was not known, sodium selenite, a selective retrograde tracer for zinc-containing terminals, was iontophoretically injected in vivo in rats exposed to systemic pilocarpine, systemic KA or chronic pentylenetetrazol. The normal projection of CA1 pyramidal neurons to the subiculum is topographically organized in a lamellar fashion. In normal rats, the extent of the injection site (terminals) and the retrogradely labeled pyramidal neurons (cell soma) corresponded to the same number of lamellas. In epileptic rats, the retrograde labeling extended 42-67% farther than the normal dorso-ventral extent including lamellas above and below the expected. This is direct evidence for sprouting of CA1 pyramidal axons into the subiculum and stratum lacunosum-moleculare of the CA1 region confirming the alterations of the laminar pattern of Timm's histochemistry. Sprouting of the CA1 projection to subiculum across hippocampal lamellas might lead to translamellar hyperexcitability, and to amplification and synchronization of epileptic discharges in the output gate of the hippocampal formation.