Central nerve terminals are placed under considerable stress during intense stimulation due to large numbers of synaptic vesicles (SVs) fusing with the plasma membrane. Classical clathrin-dependent SV endocytosis cannot correct for the large increase in nerve terminal surface area in the short term, due to its slow kinetics and low capacity. During such intense stimulation, an additional SV retrieval pathway is recruited called bulk endocytosis. Recent studies have shown that bulk endocytosis fulfils all of the physiological requirements to remedy the acute changes in nerve terminal surface area to allow the nerve terminal to continue to function. This review will summarise the recent developments in the field that characterise the physiology of bulk endocytosis which show that it is a fast, activity-dependent and high capacity mechanism that is essential for the function of central nerve terminals.