Paired-pulse facilitation (PPF) and depression (PPD) are forms of short-term plasticity that are generally thought to reflect changes in transmitter release probability. However, desensitization of postsynaptic AMPA receptors (AMPARs) significantly contributes to PPD at many glutamatergic synapses. To clarify the involvement of AMPAR desensitization in synaptic PPD, we compared PPD with AMPAR desensitization, induced by paired-pulse glutamate application in patches excised from postsynaptic cells at the calyx of Held synapse of developing rats. We found that AMPAR desensitization contributed significantly to PPD before the onset of hearing (P10-12), but that its contribution became negligible after hearing onset. During postnatal development (P7-21) the recovery of AMPARs from desensitization became faster. Concomitantly, glutamate sensitivity of AMPAR desensitization declined. Single-cell reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis indicated a developmental decline of GluR1 expression that correlated with speeding of the recovery of AMPARs from desensitization. Transmitter release probability declined during the second postnatal week (P7-14). Manipulation of the extracellular Ca2+/Mg2+ ratio, to match release probability at P7-8 and P13-15 synapses, revealed that the release probability is also an important factor determining the involvement of AMPAR desensitization in PPD. We conclude that the extent of involvement of AMPAR desensitization in short-term synaptic depression is determined by both pre- and postsynaptic mechanisms.