Long-term depression (LTD) in the CNS has been the subject of intense investigation as a process that may be involved in learning and memory and in various pathological conditions. Several mechanistically distinct forms of this type of synaptic plasticity have been identified and their molecular mechanisms are starting to be unravelled. Most studies have focused on forms of LTD that are triggered by synaptic activation of either NMDARs (N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors) or metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs). Converging evidence supports a crucial role of LTD in some types of learning and memory and in situations in which cognitive demands require a flexible response. In addition, LTD may underlie the cognitive effects of acute stress, the addictive potential of some drugs of abuse and the elimination of synapses in neurodegenerative diseases.