Nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitors have been shown to block long-term synaptic enhancements in the mammalian hippocampus. This effect has been somewhat controversial, however, showing sensitivity to both temperature and stimulus strength. We have demonstrated a differential effect of the NOS inhibitor L-N(G)-nitroarginine (NOArg) on long-term potentiation (LTP) induced by weak and strong tetanic stimulation in slices of rat hippocampus. NOArg prevented LTP induction by a weak tetanus that produced stable potentiation in control slices, while the NOS inhibitor was without effect when strong tetani were used. These results suggest that nitric oxide(NO) produced as a result of tetanic stimulation plays a role in adjusting the threshold of LTP induction, but is not necessary for establishing synaptic enhancement under conditions of strong synaptic activation.