Central presynaptic terminals harbour synaptic vesicles (SVs) and synapse-specific proteins necessary for neurotransmission. Classically, these elements were thought to reside more or less stably at individual mature synapses, giving rise to the idea that each terminal was essentially an independent functional unit. However, emerging evidence from fluorescence imaging studies in hippocampal cultured neurons is now challenging this view, suggesting that neighbouring synapses along axons share vesicles, and also other synaptic elements, at high levels. This raises the possibility that control of import and export might be an important regulatory target for the maintenance of release sites, modulation of synaptic efficacy and formation of new synaptic contacts. Here, temporal synaptic stability and the functional consequences for presynaptic operation will be considered.