Long-term potentiation (LTP) was examined in the CA1 region of rat hippocampal slices at postnatal day 9 (P9), P15, P30, P60, P90, P120, and P300. A single 100 Hz x 1 sec tetanus failed to induce LTP in P9 slices, while similar degrees of LTP were observed at P15, P30, and P60. At P30, changes in population spike (PS) amplitudes were accurately predicted by changes in dendritic excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs). However, at P15, the predicted increase in PS calculated from corresponding changes in dendritic EPSPs was significantly less than the observed increase, suggesting that EPSP-PS dissociation (ES-dissociation) plays a substantial role in LTP at P15. Additionally, the corresponding changes in somatic EPSP height measured in the CA1 cell layer did not predict the E-S dissociation at P15, suggesting that the E-S dissociation arises largely from changes in the excitability of the soma. Using a single 100 Hz x 1 sec tetanus, LTP proved difficult to induce in slices from rats > or = P90, with slices showing initial enhancement that faded over 60 min of monitoring.