We investigated experience-dependent regulation of neuronal activity in the whisker-to-barrel pathway of the adult mouse using the autoradiographic deoxyglucose (DG) method. Animals were placed in the Lausanne whisker stimulator, and three of their whisker follicles were passively stimulated for a period of 1, 2, or 4 d. After this period, mice received a dose of DG and were placed in a cage containing a pile of wooden sticks. Mice that underwent the same procedure except the passive stimulation served as controls. Patterns of stimulus-dependent DG uptake were studied in the somatosensory cortex and in the trigeminal sensory brainstem complex. DG uptake in the barrels corresponding to the passively stimulated whiskers was lower than in controls. This decrease was present throughout the radial extent of a barrel column and was observed in all passively stimulated animals. Quantitative analysis confirmed these observations and, furthermore, showed a statistically significant decrease in DG uptake in barrels neighboring the passively stimulated ones. In half of the animals, the brainstem nuclei showed a decreased DG uptake in the representation of the passively stimulated whiskers, whereas in the other animals the pattern of DG uptake was as in controls. We propose that the signs of cortical plasticity are due to a mechanism that operates in layer IV and functions as a gate for peripheral sensory activity to enter cortical circuitry.