Memory systems should be plastic to allow for learning; however, they should also retain earlier memories. Here we explore how synaptic weights and memories are retained in models of single neurons and networks equipped with spike-timing-dependent plasticity. We show that for single neuron models, the precise learning rule has a strong effect on the memory retention time. In particular, a soft-bound, weight-dependent learning rule has a very short retention time as compared with a learning rule that is independent of the synaptic weights. Next, we explore how the retention time is reflected in receptive field stability in networks. As in the single neuron case, the weight-dependent learning rule yields less stable receptive fields than a weight-independent rule. However, receptive fields stabilize in the presence of sufficient lateral inhibition, demonstrating that plasticity in networks can be regulated by inhibition and suggesting a novel role for inhibition in neural circuits.