The possibility that a permanent protein kinase C (PKC) activity is necessary for the maintenance of long-term potentiation (LTP) was investigated in rat hippocampal slices. The action of the potent kinase inhibitors K-252a, K-252b and staurosporine on LTP of orthodromic population excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) recorded from CA1 pyramidal cells was tested both during tetanization and after establishment of LTP. Confirming earlier studies, all inhibitors applied during tetanization at a concentration of 50 nM eliminate late LTP. Only staurosporine, but not K-252a or K-252b, blocked already established late LTP (i.e. late application). Normal synaptic transmission was influenced only weakly by staurosporine. Considering that all inhibitors have similar potencies against PKC and were all effective if applied during tetanization these data suggest that the late maintenance of LTP depends on a staurosporine/H7-sensitive process (or kinase) rather than permanent activation of PKC.