Induction of c-fos mRNA and Fos was studied in the hilus and granular layer of the dentate gyrus at various times up to 24 h after single electroconvulsive stimulation (ECS) using in situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry. In both areas of the dentate gyrus, a prominent induction of c-fos mRNA and Fos was observed. Compared to the granular layer, however, c-fos mRNA and Fos in hilar cells reached maximum later and remained elevated considerably longer. Several neurochemically distinct populations of hilar neurons have been described, some of which contain neuropeptide Y (NPY) and/or somatostatin (SS). Using double-labelling immunocytochemistry, we examined to what extent Fos was induced in these hilar neurons after ECS. Although a minor population of non-NPY non-SS cells displayed Fos induction early after ECS, prolonged induction of Fos almost exclusively occurred in NPY or SS neurons. The Fos-immunoreactive NPY or SS neurons only amounted to about 50% of the total hilar population of NPY or SS neurons. The present observations suggest that a subpopulation of hilar NPY and SS neurons may be central to the actions of electroconvulsive seizures in the dentate gyrus.