Intermittently occurring field events, dentate spikes (DS), and sharp waves (SPW) in the hippocampus reflect population synchrony of principal cells and interneurons along the entorhinal cortex-hippocampus axis. We have investigated the cellular-synaptic generation of DSs and SPWs by intracellular recording from granule cells, pyramidal cells, and interneurons in anesthetized rats. The recorded neurons were anatomically identified by intracellular injection of biocytin. Extracellular recording electrodes were placed in the hilus to record field DSs and multiple units and in the CA1 pyramidal cell layer to monitor SPW-associated fast field oscillations (ripples) and unit activity. DSs were associated with large depolarizing potentials in granule cells, but they rarely discharged action potentials. When they were depolarized slightly with intracellular current injection, bursts of action potentials occurred concurrently with extracellularly recorded DSs. Two interneurons in the hilar region were also found to discharge preferentially with DSs. In contrast, CA1 pyramidal cells, recorded extracellularly and intracellularly, were suppressed during DSs. In association with field SPWs, extracellular recordings from the CA1 pyramidal layer and the hilar region revealed synchronous bursting of these cell populations. Intracellular recordings from CA3 and CA1 pyramidal cells, granule cells, and from a single CA3 region interneuron revealed SPW-concurrent depolarizing potentials and action potentials. These findings suggest that granule cells may be discharged anterogradely by entorhinal input or retrogradely by the CA3-mossy cell feedback pathway during DSs and SPWs, respectively. Although both of these intermittent population patterns can activate granule cells, the impact of DSs and SPWs is diametrically opposite on the rest of the hippocampal circuitry. Entorhinal cortex activation of the granule cells during DSs induces a transient decrease in the hippocampal output, whereas during SPW bursts every principal cell population of the hippocampal formation may be recruited into the population event.