Recently it has emerged that hippocampal long-term depression (LTD) may play an important role in the acquisition and storage of spatial memories. This form of synaptic plasticity is tightly regulated by metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) that negatively couple to adenylyl cyclase. Activation of group III mGluRs is necessary for persistent hippocampal LTD, but is not required for depotentiation or long-term potentiation (LTP) in the dentate gyrus in vivo. In the CA1 region antagonism of group III mGluRs prevents LTD in vivo. Effects on LTP in vivo are as yet unknown. We investigated the effects of group III mGluR antagonism on LTP and LTD at Schaffer collateral-CA1 synapses, and on spatial learning in the eight-arm radial maze. Daily application of the group III mGluR antagonist (R,S)-alpha-cyclopropyl-4-phosphonophenylglycine (CPPG) resulted in impairment of long-term (reference) memory, with effects becoming apparent 4 days after training and drug treatment began. Short-term (working) memory was unaffected throughout the 10-day study. Application of CPPG prevented LTD, but not LTP, in the CA1 region. These data suggest that activation of group III mGluRs is required for the establishment of spatial long-term memory. Their exclusive role in mediating hippocampal LTD provides correlational evidence for a role for LTD in the type of spatial learning studied.