The present study investigated a potential role for glucocorticoid (GR) and mineralocorticoid (MR) receptors in the detrimental effects of single cocaine (COC) administration on both the number of polysialylated neural cell adhesion molecule (PSA-NCAM)-positive neurons and the induction of long-term potentiation (LTP) in the rat dentate gyrus (DG). The effects of COC (15 mg/kg i.p.) on the number of PSA-NCAM-positive neurons and the induction of LTP observed 2 days after COC administration were abolished either by depleting circulating corticosterone after administration of metyrapone (100 mg/kg s.c. given 3 h before COC) or by pharmacologically blocking GRs using mifepristone (RU 38486, 10 mg/kg s.c. given 1 h before COC). Administration of the MR blocker spironolactone (50 mg/kg s.c. given 1 h before COC) did not alter the effects of COC on the number of PSA-NCAM-positive neurons or LTP induction. Results have also shown that COC does not change the rate of cell proliferation, as measured by the presence of Ki-67 and the incorporation of bromodeoxyuridine (100 mg/kg i.p. given 2 h after COC) into the newly born cells in the DG 2 days after COC administration. Finally, we observed that GRs colocalized with some, but not all, PSA-NCAM-positive neurons, whereas MRs showed no colocalization with neurons positive for PSA-NCAM in the DG. These data indicate that a single dose of COC may arrest hippocampal susceptibility to plastic changes and lead to functional impairments through the alteration of hippocampal structure and the formation of memory traces.