To investigate the role of phosphatases in synaptic plasticity using genetic approaches, we generated transgenic mice that overexpress a truncated form of calcineurin under the control of the CaMKIIalpha promoter. Mice expressing this transgene show increased calcium-dependent phosphatase activity in the hippocampus. Physiological studies of these mice and parallel pharmacological experiments in wild-type mice reveal a novel, intermediate phase of LTP (I-LTP) in the CA1 region of the hippocampus. This intermediate phase differs from E-LTP by requiring multiple trains for induction and in being dependent on PKA. It differs from L-LTP in not requiring new protein synthesis. These data suggest that calcineurin acts as an inhibitory constraint on I-LTP that is relieved by PKA. This inhibitory constraint acts as a gate to regulate the synaptic induction of L-LTP.