Glutamate exposure of astroglial cells caused ligand-gated channel receptor activation, associated with excitotoxic cell response. We investigated the effects of 24 h glutamate exposure on transglutaminase in astrocytes primary cultures at 7, 14, and 21 days in vitro (DIV). Increases in enzyme activity were observed as a function of cell differentiation stage in glutamate-treated cultures. These effects were significantly reduced when GYKI 52466, an AMPA/KA receptors inhibitor, was added to the culture medium prior to incubation with glutamate. Microscopy observation on transglutaminase-mediated, fluorescent dansylcadaverine incorporation in living cells was consistent with these results. Western blotting analysis with monoclonal antibody showed that glutamate also up-regulated tissue transglutaminase expression, which reached the highest values in 14 DIV cultures. Confocal laser scanning microscopy analysis of immunostained astroglial cells showed a mainly cytoplasmic localisation of the enzyme both in control and treated cultures; nevertheless, counterstaining with the nuclear dye acridine orange demonstrated the presence of tissue transglutaminase also into the nucleus of glutamate-exposed and 21 DIV cells. The increases in enzyme expression and localisation in the nucleus of glutamate-treated astroglial cells may be part of biochemical alterations induced by excitotoxic stimulus.