Synaptic plasticity, or changes in synaptic strength, is thought to underlie learning and memory. Imaging studies, mainly in brain slices, have revealed that long-term synaptic plasticity of excitatory synapses in hippocampal neurons is coupled with structural plasticity of dendritic spines, which is thought to be essential for inducing and regulating functional plasticity. Using pharmacological and genetic manipulation, the signalling network underlying structural plasticity has been extensively studied. Furthermore, the recent advent of fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) imaging techniques has provided a readout of the dynamics of signal transduction in dendritic spines undergoing structural plasticity. These studies reveal the signalling pathways relaying Ca(2+) to the functional and structural plasticity of dendritic spines.