In brainstem slices of male rats, we examined in single neurons of the medial vestibular nucleus (MVN) the effect of exogenous administration of estrogenic (17β-estradiol, E2) and androgenic (5α-dihydrotestosterone, DHT) steroids on the synaptic response to vestibular afferent stimulation. By whole cell patch clamp recordings we showed that E2 induced synaptic long-term potentiation (LTP) that was cancelled by the subsequent administration of DHT. Conversely, DHT induced synaptic long-term depression (LTD) that was partially reversed by E2. The electrophysiological findings were supported by immunohistochemical analysis showing the presence of estrogen (ER: α and β) and androgen receptors (AR) in the MVN neurons. We found that a large number of neurons were immunoreactive for ERα, ERβ, and AR and most of them co-localized ERβ and AR. We also showed the presence of P450-aromatase (ARO) in the MVN neurons, clearly proving that E2 can be locally synthesized in the MVN. On the whole, these results demonstrate a role of estrogenic and androgenic signals in modulating vestibular synaptic plasticity and suggest that the enhancement or depression of vestibular synaptic response may depend on the local conversion of T into E2 or DHT. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.