Extracellular and intracellular recordings were obtained from striatal neurons in a brain slice preparation in order to characterize the post- receptor mechanisms underlying striatal posttetanic long-term depression (LTD). Striatal LTD was blocked in neurons intracellularly recorded either with 1,2-bis (o-aminophenoxy)-ethane-N,N,N′,N′- tetraacetic acid (BAPTA) or with EGTA, calcium (Ca2+) chelators. Intracellular injection of QX-314, a lidocaine derivative that has been shown to block voltage-dependent sodium channels, abolished action potential discharge and blocked striatal LTD. However, under this condition, striatal LTD was restored when, immediately before the delivery of the tetanus, the cell was depolarized at a membrane potential ranging between -30 mV and -20 mV by injecting continuous positive current. Nifedipine (10 microM), a blocker of voltage- dependent L-type Ca2+ channels, blocked striatal LTD. Nifedipine by itself altered neither cortically evoked EPSPs nor input resistance and firing properties of most of the recorded cells. Striatal LTD was also reduced or blocked by incubation of the slices in the presence of the following inhibitors of Ca(2+)-dependent protein kinases: staurosporine (10–50 nM), 1-(5-isoquinolinesulfonyl)-2- methylpiperazine (H-7; 10–50 microM), and calphostin C (1 microM). Our findings suggest that generation of striatal LTD requires a Ca2+ influx through voltage- dependent nifedipine-sensitive Ca2+ channels and a sufficient intracellular free Ca2+ concentration. Furthermore, this form of synaptic plasticity seems to involve the activation of Ca(2+)-dependent protein kinases. Different drugs, acting at receptor and/or post- receptor level, may affect this form of synaptic plasticity and might alter the formation of motor memory.