The molecular underpinnings of exploration and its link to learning and memory remain poorly understood. Here we show that inducible, modest overexpression of neuronal calcium sensor 1 (Ncs1) selectively in the adult murine dentate gyrus (DG) promotes a specific form of exploratory behavior. The mice also display a selective facilitation of long-term potentiation (LTP) in the medial perforant path and a selective enhancement in rapid-acquisition spatial memory, phenotypes that are reversed by direct application of a cell-permeant peptide (DNIP) designed to interfere with NCS-1 binding to the dopamine type-2 receptor (D2R). Moreover, the DNIP and the D2R-selective antagonist L-741,626 attenuated exploratory behavior, DG LTP, and spatial memory in control mice. These data demonstrate a role for NCS-1 and D2R in DG plasticity and provide insight for understanding how the DG contributes to the origin of exploration and spatial memory acquisition.