AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) play a major role in excitatory synaptic transmission and plasticity. Channel properties are largely dictated by their composition of the four subunits, GluR1-4 (or A-D). Here we show that AMPAR assembly and subunit stoichiometry are determined by RNA editing in the pore loop. We demonstrate that editing at the GluR2 Q/R site regulates AMPAR assembly at the step of tetramerization. Specifically, edited R subunits are largely unassembled and ER retained, whereas unedited Q subunits readily tetramerize and traffic to synapses. This assembly mechanism restricts the number of the functionally critical R subunits in AMPAR tetramers. Therefore, a single amino acid residue affects channel composition and, in turn, controls ion conduction through the majority of AMPARs in the brain.