We found that neuropsin, an extracellular matrix serine protease, has a regulatory effect on Schaffer-collateral long-term potentiation (LTP) in the mouse hippocampus. Bath application of 1–170 n m recombinant neuropsin modulated early phase LTP in the Schaffer-collateral pathway with a ‘bell-shape’ dose–response curve. The maximum enhancing activity (134% of control LTP) was found at ∼ 2.5 nm. Bath application of a neutralizing antibody against neuropsin in the hippocampal slice resulted in a marked inhibition of the tetanus-induced early phase of LTP. The in vivo continuous intraventricular infusion of an antisense oligonucleotide against neuropsin significantly reduced the amplitude of the tetanus-induced early phase of LTP in vitro. Neuropsin did not directly change the N-methyl d-aspartate (NMDA) current. Thus, neuropsin appears to act as a regulatory molecule in the early phase of LTP via its proteolytic function on extracellular matrix rather than affecting NMDA receptor-mediated calcium increase.