DNA (cytosine-5) methylation represents one of the most widely used mechanisms of enduring cellular memory. Stable patterns of DNA methylation are established during development, resulting in creation of persisting cellular phenotypes. There is growing evidence that the nervous system has co-opted a number of cellular mechanisms used during development to subserve the formation of long term memory. In this study, we examined the role DNA (cytosine-5) methyltransferase (DNMT) activity might play in regulating the induction of synaptic plasticity. We found that the DNA within promoters for reelin and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, genes implicated in the induction of synaptic plasticity in the adult hippocampus, exhibited rapid and dramatic changes in cytosine methylation when DNMT activity was inhibited. Moreover, zebularine and 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine, inhibitors of DNMT activity, blocked the induction of long term potentiation at Schaffer collateral synapses. Activation of protein kinase C in the hippocampus decreased reelin promoter methylation and increased DNMT3A gene expression. Interestingly, DNMT activity is required for protein kinase C-induced increases in histone H3 acetylation. Considered together, these results suggest that DNMT activity is dynamically regulated in the adult nervous system and that DNMT may play a role in regulating the induction of synaptic plasticity in the mature CNS. © 2006 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.