1. Whole cell recordings and high-speed fluorescence imaging were used to investigate the spatial and temporal characteristics of Ca2+ influx during synaptic activity in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. Brief, subthreshold trains of synaptic potentials elicited by Schaffer collateral stimulation produced transient increases in [Ca2+]i in the apical dendrites near the site of synaptic input. The rises in [Ca2+]i were not due to Ca2+ entry through N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-activated or non-NMDA-activated glutamate channels, but were reduced by low concentrations of Ni2+. Hyperpolarizing prepulses caused an increase in the synaptically evoked Ca2+ transients, whereas strong hyperpolarization during the train prevented the rise in [Ca2+]i. The data suggest that subthreshold synaptic activity can open low-voltage-activated (T-type) Ca2+ channels and produce a local increase in intradendritic [Ca2+]. Such local increases in [Ca2+]i may be important for modulating the strength of synaptic connections.