Our previous work has shown that Group I mGlu receptors participate in thalamic sensory processing in vivo. However, unequivocal demonstration of mGlu5 participation has not been possible due to the lack of specific ligands. We have therefore made a preliminary study of the in vivo actions of the agonist (R,S)-2-Chloro-5-hydroxyphenylglycine [CHPG] and the novel mGlu5 antagonist 6-methyl-2-(phenylethynyl)-pyridine [MPEP] in order to characterize their suitability for functional studies. Iontophoretically administered MPEP selectively antagonized excitatory responses of single rat thalamic neurones to CHPG compared to the broad-spectrum mGlu agonist (1S,3R)-1-aminocyclopentane-1,3-dicarboxylate. In contrast, the established mGlu1 and mGlu5 antagonist (S)-4-carboxyphenylglycine reduced responses to both agonists. These findings are the first demonstration of an in vivo action of CHPG and its antagonism by a selective mGlu5 antagonist. Furthermore MPEP appears to be a good tool for functional studies of mGlu5.