We report that kainic acid-induced seizures lead to marked increases in mRNAs encoding basic and acidic fibroblast growth factors (bFGF and aFGF, respectively) and fig, one of their receptors, in the rat hippocampus. Anticonvulsant pretreatment inhibits the up-regulation of these mRNAs. The observed increase in fig mRNA levels involves the pyramidal cells of all hippocampal subfields and the granular ceils of the dentate gyrus. The increased expression of aFGF and bFGF mRNAs is limited to neuron populations that are resistant to seizure-induced injury, the granular cells of dentate gyrus and pyramidal cells of CA1 region, respectively. The results suggest that the increase in the FGFs and fig may play pivotal roles in neuron survival and in long-term changes occurring in the hippocampus following seizure activity.