We isolated a cDNA clone, named BSPL, that encodes a brain-specific dipeptidyl peptidase-like protein with 30% identity and 50% similarity to CD26, a lymphocyte membrane antigen involved in T-cell activation. BSPL lacks, however, the catalytic residue responsible for peptidase activity. The expression of BSPL is widespread throughout the CNS but restricted to neurons under normal conditions. Twenty-four hours after injection of kainic acid into the hippocampus, a dramatic increase in the concentration of BSPL mRNA was detected by in situ hybridization in the CA3 region of the injected hemisphere as compared with the contralateral hemisphere or sham-injected animals. An increase in the steady-state level of BSPL mRNA concentration was also found following tetanic stimulation of the perforant path to produce LTP in granule cells of the dentate gyrus. Hybridization signals could be detected in dendritic processes of pyramidal neurons and in some glial cells upon either type of stimulation. These data suggest that BSPL may be involved in synaptic plasticity.