A change in vibrissae complement in rodents leads to long-term changes in vibrissae dominance. These changes involve both potentiation of spared vibrissae responses and suppression of deprived vibrissae responses in adolescent animals. In adult animals only potentiation of spared vibrissae responses was detected. Suppression exhibits hetero- and homosynaptic components and appears to be cortical in origin, as is potentiation. The time course for potentiation and suppression in the barrel cortex of adolescent rats is different, with suppression preceeding potentiation by at least one week. There seems to be no critical period for potentiation in superficial layers of barrel cortex, but there is a critical period for suppression. Suppression cannot be evoked if plasticity is induced later than at 6 months of age nor maintained if experimental manipulations begin later than at three months. The molecular mechanisms that underlie plastic changes in the barrel cortex still remain unclear, although a-CamKII and to lesser extend a/b-CREB appear to be involved.