Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) rapidly enhances excitatory synaptic transmission in cortical slices. To date, however, a question of how long such an action persists remains unanswered as it is hard to record synaptic responses longer than several hours in slice preparations. To address this question and to investigate possible age-dependency of the action, we analysed effects of a brief application of BDNF and nerve growth factor (NGF) on field potentials of visual cortex in rats of postnatal days 13–17 and 19–24 and in the adulthood for 10–24 h. Evoked potentials to stimulation of the lateral geniculate nucleus were recorded simultaneously from two cortical sites into which the neurotrophin and control solution were injected. An application of BDNF induced a slowly developing increase in the field potential amplitude in young rats. The amplitude attained a plateau level 3–4 h after the infusion; 139 ± 26% (mean ± SD) and 132 ± 21% of the baseline in the rats at P13-17 and P19-24, respectively. This potentiation remained stable from 4 to 8 h, then gradually decreased to the baseline 15–16 h after the infusion. NGF applied in the same way did not induce potentiation. An inhibitor of BDNF receptors blocked the potentiation when it was applied immediately after the BDNF application, but was not effective about 2 h later. In the adults, BDNF did not potentiate field potentials. These results indicate that BDNF induces synaptic potentiation lasting for several hours only in the developing cortex through processes downstream of receptor activation.