Area CA3 of the hippocampus is the most epileptogenic structure of the brain. Various studies have shown that kainate-induced experimental epilepsy in rats and human cases of epilepsy are associated with sprouting of the mossy fibers of the dentate granule neurons and selective loss of pyramidal neurons, notably in the CA3-CA4 areas of Ammon's horn. In experimental models of epilepsy, brief seizure activity initiates a cascade of molecular alterations that will contribute to changes in the expression of numerous genes, which can last several weeks. The products of some of these genes will contribute to the permanent state of enhanced synaptic efficiency, to the sprouting and formation of novel excitatory synapses, and possibly to neuronal cell loss. The expression of genes encoding transcription factors and numerous growth factors is rapidly altered following seizure episodes. Based on observations in vivo and in vitro in cultured hippocampal neurons, it is hypothesized that an interplay between transcription and growth factors, because of their pleiotropic effects on the regulation of effector genes, may be instrumental in coupling transient extracellular stimuli to irreversible cellular alterations.