Although the existence of thalamostriatal projections has long been known, the role(s) of this system in the basal ganglia circuitry remains poorly characterized. The intralaminar and ventral motor nuclei are the main sources of thalamic inputs to the striatum. This review emphasizes the high degree of anatomical and functional specificity of basal ganglia-thalamostriatal projections and discusses various aspects of the synaptic connectivity and neurochemical features that differentiate this glutamate system from the corticostriatal network. It also discusses the importance of thalamostriatal projections from the caudal intralaminar nuclei in the process of attentional orientation. A major task of future studies is to characterize the role(s) of corticostriatal and thalamostriatal pathways in regulating basal ganglia activity in normal and pathological conditions.