1. We examined the efficacy of low-frequency trains (1-5 Hz) in producing long-term depression (LTD) or depotentiation in the hippocampus of the awake adult rat and in anesthetized rats aged from 10 days to 3 mo. 2. In the dentate gyrus we found no evidence that low-frequency trains produce either depotentiation or LTD in the awake, adult animal or in the anesthetized animal at any age tested (10 days-adult). 3. In area CA1 of both awake and anesthetized adult rats, we also found no evidence that low-frequency trains induced either LTD or depotentiation. Only in area CA1 of very young rats (10-11 days) was clear evidence for LTD and depotentiation obtained; at this age experiments were only possible in anesthetized animals. By 16 days, the ability to display both LTD and depotentiation was lost. 4. These experiments suggest that repetitive low-frequency stimulation evokes a developmentally regulated form of activity-dependent depression that in the hippocampus is limited to specific pathways in the young animal. Our results leave open the question of whether alternative patterns of activity can induce LTD and/or depotentiation in the adult awake rat.