Expression of Ca(2+)-induced CA1 long-term potentiation (LTP) was analysed in hippocampal slices obtained from (1) 3-month-old and (2) 18-20-month-old Sprague-Dawley rats selected for their performances in the Morris water maze task. In all slices, a transient (10 min) increase of extracellular Ca2+ concentration (4 mM) caused a long-lasting enhancement of potentials evoked by electrical stimulation of radiatum fibers. However, a significant difference was found in the degree of potentiation among groups. In particular, increases of the CA1 response amplitudes were significantly lower in old rats impaired in spatial learning than in young at 30 (P < 0.05), 60, 90 and 120 min (P < 0.01) after restoring the normal Ca2+ concentration. On the contrary, no differences were observed between young animals and the old ones with good performances in spatial learning. The data suggest that amplitude of CA1 Ca(2+)-induced LTP in old rats is related to spatial learning abilities.