Neonatal (P0) gamma-irradiation was used to lesion selectively the mossy fiber (MF) synaptic input to CA3 pyramidal cells. This lesion caused a > 85% reduction in the MF input as determined by quantitative assessment of the number of dynorphin immunoreactive MF boutons. The gamma-irradiation lesion caused a reduction in the mean number of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) recorded from CA3 pyramidal cells (2,292 vs. 1,429/3-min period; n = 10). The lesion also caused a reduction in the mean mEPSC peak amplitude from 19.1 +/- 0.45 to 14.6 +/- 0.49 pA (mean +/- SE; peak conductance 238.8 +/- 5.6 to 182.0 +/- 6.1 pS). Similarly, there was a reduction in the mean 10-85% rise time from 1.72 +/- 0.02 ms to 1.42 +/- 0.04 ms. The effects of the gamma-irradiation on both mEPSC amplitude and 10-85% rise time were significant at P < 0.002 and P < 0.005 (2-tailed Kolmogorov-Smirnov test). Based on the selectively of the gamma-irradiation, MF and non-MF mEPSC amplitude and 10-85% rise-time distributions were calculated. Both the amplitude and 10-85% rise-time distributions showed extensive overlap between the MF and non-MF mediated mEPSCs. The MF mEPSC distributions had a mean peak amplitude of 24.6 pA (307.5 pS) and a mean 10-85% rise time of 2.16 ms. THe non-MF mEPSC distributions had a mean peak amplitude of 12.2 pA (152.5 pS) and 10-85% rise time of 1.26 ms. The modes of the amplitude distributions were the same at 5 pA (62 pS). The MF and non-MF mEPSC amplitude and 10-85% rise-time distributions were significantly different at P << 0.001 (1-tailed, large sample Kolmogorov-Smirnov test). The data demonstrate that the removal of the MF synaptic input to CA3 pyramidal cells leads to the absence of the large amplitude mEPSCs that are present in control recordings.