Several modes of synaptic vesicle release, retrieval and recycling have been identified. In a well-established mode of exocytosis, termed 'full-collapse fusion', vesicles empty their neurotransmitter content fully into the synaptic cleft by flattening out and becoming part of the presynaptic membrane. The fused vesicle membrane is then reinternalized via a slow and clathrin-dependent mode of compensatory endocytosis that takes several seconds. A more fleeting mode of vesicle fusion, termed 'kiss-and-run' exocytosis or 'flicker-fusion', indicates that during synaptic transmission some vesicles are only briefly connected to the presynaptic membrane by a transient fusion pore. Finally, a mode that retrieves a large amount of membrane, equivalent to that of several fused vesicles, termed 'bulk endocytosis', has been found after prolonged exocytosis. We are of the opinion that both fast and slow modes of endocytosis co-exist at central nervous system nerve terminals and that one mode can predominate depending on stimulus strength, temperature and synaptic maturation.