Bifenthrin, a relatively stable type I pyrethroid that causes tremors and impairs motor activity in rodents, is broadly used. We investigated whether nanomolar bifenthrin alters synchronous Ca(2+) oscillations (SCOs) necessary for activity-dependent dendritic development. Primary mouse cortical neurons were cultured 8 or 9 days in vitro (DIV), loaded with the Ca(2+) indicator Fluo-4, and imaged using a Fluorescence Imaging Plate Reader Tetra. Acute exposure to bifenthrin rapidly increased the frequency of SCOs by 2.7-fold (EC50 = 58 nM) and decreased SCO amplitude by 36%. Changes in SCO properties were independent of modifications in voltage-gated sodium channels since 100 nM bifenthrin had no effect on the whole-cell Na(+) current, nor did it influence neuronal resting membrane potential. The L-type Ca(2+) channel blocker nifedipine failed to ameliorate bifenthrin-triggered SCO activity. By contrast, the metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR)5 antagonist MPEP [2-methyl-6-(phenylethynyl)pyridine] normalized bifenthrin-triggered increase in SCO frequency without altering baseline SCO activity, indicating that bifenthrin amplifies mGluR5 signaling independent of Na(+) channel modification. Competitive [AP-5; (-)-2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid] and noncompetitive (dizocilpine, or MK-801 [(5S,10R)-(+)-5-methyl-10,11-dihydro-5H-dibenzo[a,d]cyclohepten-5,10-imine maleate]) N-methyl-d-aspartate antagonists partially decreased both basal and bifenthrin-triggered SCO frequency increase. Bifenthrin-modified SCO rapidly enhanced the phosphorylation of cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB). Subacute (48 hours) exposure to bifenthrin commencing 2 DIV-enhanced neurite outgrowth and persistently increased SCO frequency and reduced SCO amplitude. Bifenthrin-stimulated neurite outgrowth and CREB phosphorylation were dependent on mGluR5 activity since MPEP normalized both responses. Collectively these data identify a new mechanism by which bifenthrin potently alters Ca(2+) dynamics and Ca(2+)-dependent signaling in cortical neurons that have long term impacts on activity driven neuronal plasticity.