The daily light:dark cycle synchronizes the circadian timing system by resetting the phase of the circadian pacemaker on a daily basis. Light acutely increases mRNA levels of the clock genes Per1 and Per2 in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the site of the primary circadian pacemaker in mammals. Light is conveyed to the SCN through the retinohypothalamic tract (RHT), an efferent projection from retinal ganglion cells that releases the excitatory amino acid (EAA) neurotransmitter glutamate in the SCN. EAA receptor activation in the SCN is critical for the ability of light to phase-shift the circadian pacemaker. In a previous study, we demonstrated that EAA receptor activation is necessary and sufficient for light to acutely increase Per1 mRNA levels in the SCN. In the current study, we determined whether EAA receptor activation in the SCN is necessary for the ability of light to increase Per2 mRNA levels in the SCN in Syrian hamsters. The NMDA receptor antagonist AP5 and the AMPA/kainate receptor antagonist DNQX inhibited the ability of light and NMDA to acutely increase Per2 mRNA levels in the SCN. In hamsters injected with DNQX, Per1 and Per2 mRNA levels remained slightly elevated in the ventrolateral SCN, suggesting that AMPA/kainate receptor activation in this region is not critical for the effects of light on the circadian pacemaker.