Retrieval of glutamate from extracellular sites in the retina involves at least five excitatory amino acid transporters. Immunocytochemical analysis of the cat retina indicates that each of these transporters exhibits a selective distribution which may reflect its specific function. The uptake of glutamate into Muller cells or astrocytes appears to depend upon GLAST and EAAT4, respectively. Staining for EAAT4 was also seen in the pigment epithelium. The remaining transporters are neuronal with GLT-1alpha localized to a number of cone bipolar, amacrine, and ganglion cells and GLT-1v in cone photoreceptors and several populations of bipolar cells. The EAAC1 transporter was found in horizontal, amacrine, and ganglion cells. Staining for EAAT5 was seen in the axon terminals of both rod and cone photoreceptors as well as in numerous amacrine and ganglion cells. Although some of the glutamate transporter molecules are positioned for presynaptic or postsynaptic uptake at glutamatergic synapses, others with localizations more distant from such contacts may serve in modulatory roles or provide protection against excitoxic or oxidative damage.