Intracellular recording methods and immunostaining revealed the existence of functional group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) in submucous plexus neurons of guinea-pig ileum. Selective group I, but not groups II or III metabotropic glutamate receptor agonists induced concentration-dependent, slowly-activating depolarizing responses. Group I metabotropic glutamate receptor antagonism observed with (S)-4-carboxyphenylglycine (S-4-CPG) (100 - 600 microM) was competitive as determined by Schild analysis (pA(2)=3.81+/-0.02). Neither the group II and III metabotropic nor ionotropic glutamate receptor antagonists altered responses evoked by group I receptor agonists. Immunoreactivities for metabotropic glutamate 1alpha and 5 receptors were found to locate exclusively in neurons in the submucous plexus of guinea-pig ileum with the highest density around the cell bodies. The results suggest that group I metabotropic glutamate receptors are functionally expressed in the submucous plexus of guinea-pig small intestine.