In the hippocampus and neocortex, high-frequency (tetanic) stimulation of an afferent pathway leads to long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic transmission. In the hippocampus it has recently been shown that long-term depression (LTD) of excitatory transmission can also be induced by certain combinations of synaptic activation. In most hippocampal and all neocortical pathways studied so far, the induction of LTP requires the activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-gated conductances. Here we report that LTD can occur in neurons of slices of the rat visual cortex and that the same tetanic stimulation can induce either LTP or LTD depending on the level of depolarization of the postsynaptic neuron. By applying intracellular current injections or pharmacological disinhibition to modify the depolarizing response of the postsynaptic neuron to tetanic stimulation, we show that the mechanisms of induction of LTD and LTP are both postsynaptic. LTD is obtained if postsynaptic depolarization exceeds a critical level but remains below a threshold related to NMDA receptor-gated conductances, whereas LTP is induced if this second threshold is reached.