Sharp waves (SPWs) are a hippocampal population activity that has been linked to neuronal representations. We show that SPWs in the CA3 region of rat hippocampal slices can be triggered by the firing of single pyramidal cells. Single action potentials in almost one-third of pyramidal cells initiated SPWs at latencies of 2–5 ms with probabilities of 0.07–0.76. Initiating pyramidal cells evoked field IPSPs (fIPSPs) at similar latencies when SPWs were not initiated. Similar spatial profiles for fIPSPs and middle components of SPWs suggested that SPW fields reflect repeated fIPSPs. Multiple extracellular records showed that the initiated SPWs tended to start near the stimulated pyramidal cell, whereas spontaneous SPWs could emerge at multiple sites. Single pyramidal cells could initiate two to six field IPSPs with distinct amplitude distributions, typically preceeded by a short-duration extracellular action potential. Comparison of these initiated fields with spontaneously occurring inhibitory field motifs allowed us to identify firing in different interneurones during the spread of SPWs. Propagation away from an initiating pyramidal cell was typically associated with the recruitment of interneurones and field IPSPs that were not activated by the stimulated pyramidal cell. SPW fields initiated by single cells were less variable than spontaneous events, suggesting that more stereotyped neuronal ensembles were activated, although neither the spatial profiles of fields, nor the identities of interneurone firing were identical for initiated events. The effects of single pyramidal cell on network events are thus mediated by different sequences of interneurone firing.