The general structure of the mammalian neocortex is remarkably similar across different cortical areas. Despite certain cytoarchitectural specializations and deviations from the general blueprint, the principal organization of the neocortex is relatively uniform. It is not known, however, to what extent stereotypic synaptic pathways resemble each other between cortical areas, and how far they might reflect possible functional uniformity or specialization. Here, we show that frequency-dependent disynaptic inhibition (FDDI) is a generic circuit motif that is present in all neocortical areas we investigated (primary somatosensory, auditory and motor cortex, secondary visual cortex and medial prefrontal cortex of the developing rat). We did find, however, area-specific differences in occurrence and kinetics of FDDI and the short-term dynamics of monosynaptic connections between pyramidal cells (PCs). Connectivity between PCs, both monosynaptic and via FDDI, is higher in primary cortices. The long-term effectiveness of FDDI is likely to be limited by an activity-dependent attenuation of the PC–interneuron synaptic transmission. Our results suggest that the basic construction of neocortical synaptic pathways follows principles that are independent of modality or hierarchical order within the neocortex.