Abstract Previous studies have demonstrated that synaptic plasticity, which includes long-term potentiation (LTP) and depotentiation (DP) in hippocampus, is important for learning and memory. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effect of taurine via drinking water on the lead-induced impairments of LTP and DP in rat dentate gyrus (DG) in vivo. The experiments were carried out in four groups of rats (control, lead-exposed, control and lead-exposed with a taurine-supplement diet, respectively). The input-output (I/O) function, excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) and population spike (PS) amplitude were measured in the DG area of adult rats (60–90 days) in response to stimulation applied to the lateral perforant path. The results show that: 1. chronic lead exposure impaired LTP/DP measured on both EPSP slope and PS amplitude in DG area of the hippocampus; 2. in control rats, taurine had no effect on LTP/DP; 3. the amplitudes of LTP/DP of lead-exposed group were significantly increased by applying taurine. These results suggest that dietary taurine supplement could protect rats from the lead-induced impairments of synaptic plasticity and might be a preventive medicine to cure the cognitive deficits induced by lead.