To investigate the extent to which inhibitory interneurons control impulse flow through the dentate gyrus during spatial learning in an exploration task, dentate field potentials were recorded in response to paired stimulation of the perforant path while rats rested or explored. Recurrent inhibition of the granule cells was measured as the reduction of the second waveform when a population spike was present in the first. Both the population spike and the field EPSP (fEPSP) were suppressed at interstimulus intervals shorter than approximately 40 msec. Consistent differences were observed between potentials recorded at equivalent brain temperature in the exploration and resting (reference) conditions. During exploration, the fEPSP of the second (test) waveform was reduced further compared with reference potentials with a similar response to the first (conditioning) stimulus. This reduction was observed only when the first pulse elicited a population spike. The population spike of the second waveform was facilitated compared with reference potentials with similar fEPSP slopes. These observations suggest that exploration is coupled to increased inhibition on the perforant-path terminals or the dendrites of the granule cells, whereas the inhibition on the somata is decreased. The two phenomena were not correlated and followed different time courses. The suppression of the fEPSP decayed gradually, although it was still present at 15 min, whereas the facilitation of the population spike was stable. Together, these changes, which likely involve different populations of interneurons, may focus and amplify incoming signals from the entorhinal cortex.